It’s Not About What I CAN See, Anyway!

 

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For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The other day I shared how shattered my heart gets at times ~ especially lately. The way it twists and turns and then sinks to the pit of my stomach is becoming all-too-familiar of a feeling when I look upon the headlines, immerse myself (rather than glaze over) in the agony others in our world are facing, and continue to watch things as they seem to keep unraveling in this world we live in.

I shared with you my feelings about the bubbles we find ourselves nesting in at times – the ones that provide a false sense of comfort, peace, love, and even joy. I shared my hatred of the bubble, yet the equal disdain I feel when I am faced with the discomfort our present reality offers upon popping it and moving to the outside of the falsity of that womb-like environment.

But a friend reminded me of something extremely important, that I don’t think I emphasized enough in my last post.

Here it is:

It’s easy to find ourselves ~ in the endeavor not to live in the bubble ~ in the commitment to keep our eyes wide open to seeing and discerning the truth rather than operating under the illusions offered by “feelings” ~ to start looking at the world and what’s going on (the evil, the ugly, the dark) for what it is, but forget that our focus needs to be on Jesus and the way that HE looks upon the world.

Jesus and His victory.

The victory we already have in Jesus.

JESUS.

HIS power. HIS grace.

HIS comfort, peace and joy.

And yes….seeing sin and evil for what it is comes with that as well. But we always need to emphasize that He’s already won the battle ~ many just don’t realize it yet.

We must emphasize that He has won!

You know, the death of my mother helps me….even today… to see that being grief-stricken and rocked to the core by all that seems wrong, unfair, or filled with sorrow can be met with a peace and a joy that surpasses all of that. Yes, we CAN feel terrible, be in agony, pain, at the end of all that seems even humane, while SIMULTANEOUSLY knowing the joy and peace and comfort of a God who knows the end of the story.

Our God – He has written the ending of the story already!

And He’s here with us through it all.

I walked around filled with a grief and a dark pain after mama died that I can’t fully express in words. At the very same time, I was filled with the love and hope and peace of Jesus. I had His joy to sustain me. I may not have been laughing – but I had his joy. Until you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to fully grasp it. But that’s the stuff of life, friends. THAT is the kind of stuff only Jesus can provide us with to sustain us and make us thrive. Regardless of circumstances, this is how “our rock” carries us, molds, us, teaches us, and conforms us into HIS likeness, not that of the world.

I’m all for laughter and happiness. But if I had to choose, I’d take that Jesus joy any day over all of that other stuff. Sometimes, we get to have both, and that’s a special blessing for a time. But these days ~ these recent days in which I find myself sad about the heartache out there…sad about the struggles and the pure evil – these days, the joy of Jesus is what sustains me.

He delivers us from darkness. How would we know that if we never experienced the cold and the black in the first place?
He comforts us when nothing else can – when we feel we can’t put one foot in front of the other or stand a minute longer of the torment.
He loves us in the midst of the truth – all of it – the good truth, the ugly and hard truth – the edges of utter despair.

And he lifts us up – on wings like eagles, friends.

He lifts us UP.

I haven’t found the secret yet, if there even is one, of how to stay out of the bubble and look at what is happening around me (and even in my own little dark crevices of my sinful heart) – as to how to do so without ever slipping into the abyss of gloom and doom. Sometimes my toe crosses over that line and God faithfully draws me back in to Himself.

He knows just when to pull me back, and I learn something beautiful in that process every time.

This is the stuff we can’t see with our eyes.

Jesus. Faith in Him.

His divine intervention.

His love – His triumph over the grave. His grace and His mercy.

But I beg anyone to try to even think about convincing me that we can’t know it – that we can’t feel it in the most deep way (in the Spirit).

That goes beyond any feelings I could ever experience in this world. It goes beyond any knowledge my finite mind could ever grasp. It is the truth and love of God all permeating every aspect of my being that screams at me “Now you really have your eyes wide open!!!”

It’s when I close my eyes and look for HIM that I really get true sight. You could poke my eyes out, take away my sense of smell, feeling, even hearing. But nothing can take away my communion with Jesus Christ.

Not ever.

So as I find myself wanting to shut my eyes, I will remember. I will remember what my friends Heather and Chuck both reminded me not to forget:

That I am to speak the truth in love the way God leads me to do, and that we are meant to look for Jesus in everything (even if we have to close our eyes to see him better).

It’s Jesus who holds the power. The enemy will do his best to knock us down, but he will not prevail. It may seem that way at times, and yes, this will make us sad. But we are already conquerors in Christ.

This girl is continuing to open her eyes when she’s supposed to, and close them and look for Jesus when that’s what He calls her to do and she’s getting distracting or pulled off of His path.

I just pray for the wisdom to know the difference. I pray for none of us to be deceived, and even if we are, that the Lord will pull us back. He uses friends to help us with that, you know. He gave us the Holy Spirit to whisper and nudge us when we go astray.

May we all stand firm in the knowledge that He has us in the palm of His hand. If you really listen and really seek Him, you’ll know you’re there (and you won’t need to be able to “see” a single thing to know it).

Thanks Chuck. Thanks Heather. I love you both ~

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

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I Want to Shut My Eyes

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This last couple of weeks I have been struggling – deep, deep heart struggle. I can’t stand what I am seeing in the world, my friends. It wrecks my heart to the core. The cynics say many things that make my heart hurt even worse.

**Suffering has gone on in the world for millenia – why does this bother you so much more than other stuff?
**It’s none of our business – we need to stop meddling.
**What about our people here in our own country? Things are just as bad here and we don’t seem so sad about that.

I get it…what the cynics say. I understand the thought process. And that crushes my heart, because it is so very deceitful. They are being deceived with such thinking – I know, I have been there. I still find myself there at times.

See, it’s not either/or when it comes to this kind of stuff, friends ~ Our conviction about the sin and suffering we see in the world is not limited to either/or.

It’s ALL OF IT.

It’s the increase of it. It’s the callousness of it. It’s the intensity and frequency of it. It’s the in-your-face aspect of it. It’s the almost celebratory “look at what I can get away with” of it all – and most of all – it’s the shutting of our eyes to protect ourselves part of it that gets my stomach turning and twisted in knots. It’s not the horrible photos. It’s not that at all. It’s the facing – the IN YOUR FACE facing up to the truth and reality and the way that we coldly stand back and do nothing (not even really pray that much) of it that makes me feel sick. Yet we get our panties in a bunch if the Starbucks guy looks at us sideways (must be because I’m gay, a Christian, a democrat, or whatever) junk that we focus upon instead!

Yes, it’s always been present – evil and twisted sin. Yes, it’s part of the human sin nature – cruelty, lies, murder, terror, and apathy. But I see it increasing. And no – it’s not only due to the fact that we have practically real-time news flashes at our fingertips. It’s an overall change in the way sin is see in our world coupled with the increase in intensity that is present.

I feel it in my soul. I know it is real…this change. Satan knows the end is near and he’s ramping up his games.

Matthew 24:12 ~ Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

We are cold – indifferent – consumed with something as stupid as the fact that our neighbor looked at us funny and we think that spells discrimination. Simultaneously, we turn a blind eye to the really wicked stuff that’s going on around us all in the name of “mind your own business.” It’s crap. All of that justification we provide for ourselves so we don’t have to act…care….be deeply disturbed.

We don’t want to burst the bubble or anything like that, do we?

I’m sick about it. That bubble is such a liar. It makes us feel warm and protected. But nothing real gets inside. So it’s all false – all deceit. All an illusion. It’s a scheme of the devil, there’s no other way to explain it!

It is inside of these bubbles that our love will grow cold. But we won’t even know it’s happening, because we feel so warm and pretty. And lest you think I am spewing judgement out upon the world without looking hard at my little self, you are mistaken.

How did I title this blog post? It’s the opposite of the title of the entire blog. I titled my entire blog site Eyes Wide Open for a reason – a personal reason, friends. It’s because I like the bubble vision too much. I like it very much to close my eyes (and my heart) to the reality of what is going on, whether it’s something horrific in the world or something even worse inside of my own heart. So I put myself on the hook by naming it that way. I am on the hook with Jesus to let Him search my heart and open my eyes (heart) to the truth….even when it’s very, very ugly.

See…he does great things when we are willing to take a look at the ugly along with Him. If we are willing to see it, let it twist our stomachs up for a moment, let it pierce our hearts and prod us and twist us until we wonder if we will ever “feel” comfort again, we get to then turn it over to Him and experience true comfort and peace. That is not the stuff of feelings at all, a lot of the time – rather it is this God thing that surpasses mere feelings. It is better.

But the flesh still battles hard. It battles for the feelings part of it all – it wants comfort. It likes the bubble.

I want to shut my eyes to what I see growing increasingly wicked by the day in our world because it reminds me of just how dark our human hearts can be if we turn away from the Lord. I want to shut my eyes and not be reminded of the horrible things that man can do to one another when he seeks his own way instead of following afer Jesus. I want to shut my eyes when I can’t do anything much to help others that are suffering unimaginable things at the hands of the evil one. I want to crawl in my bubble and shut my eyes. Seal them. Hibernate in my own little happy world.

And this last couple of weeks, I find myself unable to do that. And that is GOOD. It’s a bad feeling kind of good to have my eyes wide open lately.

Matthew 24: 6-8 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a] these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Do not be troubled? I don’t know what the original greek or hebrew word for that translates to, but I don’t think it means what it would to us today at first glance, because later Jesus says “these are the beginning of sorrows.”

I think Jesus means that we can have confidence in the FACE OF THESE SORROWS that He IS going to come back and all of this evil will be put to an end. It will be done, over, finished forever. He has already paid the price for us on the cross. That part is already finished if we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But we will get to go home and live with Him one day in a place where there is no evil. We will be in a place where feelings meet truth and it is a whole new way of living. The real life begins in this place.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In the meantime, morbid as many may think that I am, I am not going to shut my eyes. I am going to look in the face of the evil that is happening and remember Jesus’ words to us. “This is the beginning of sorrows.”

Only He can heal.

While we stare in the face of love growing cold, do we stand strong and firm and rooted in the love of Jesus anyway? What is it today that may be stopping you from loving others as He first loved us? Are you afraid to come out of the bubble for fear of being troubled? Are you turning to Him in the midst of the sorrows and allowing His peace, His comfort, His joy to weigh heavier than the light and airy feel-good stuff the bubble provides? Do you want to shut your eyes to something today that you know you are supposed to see, even if it’s ugly, life changing, and scary? You are not alone, friend. You are NOT alone.

He tells us to watch many times – there’s a reason for that, my friends. Please watch. Look and watch for Jesus in all that you do. It may seem sometimes like all you see is evil in the world as you open your eyes and peer outside the bubble. But do not be deceived. God is at work. Do not be deceived into being lulled to sleep. Watch for Him, friends. Find Him where you are and watch for His return. I highly urge you to immerse yourself in Jesus’ own words about watching for His return. To me, if Christ Himself emphasizes something over and over again, it warrants considering it and pondering it and immersing ourselves in it deeply. You can find what Jesus says about this in many places, but Matthew 24 is a great place to start.

Study it…ponder it. Look with a discerning eye as to what Jesus is saying. Don’t be the virgin with the lamp that ran out of oil. Don’t be the servant who partied at home while waiting for His master to return. Be ready. He is coming.

And I must say, if I make some people angry or uncomfortable with this brazen blog post today, please know I speak only out of love. It can’t be all hearts and flowers when it comes to getting our attention fixed upon Christ in the midst of a very distracting and very cold world. It just can’t. This is my attempt at helping us to remain vigilant and STAY AWAKE. I feel Jesus urging me to become even more bold for Him. So, if I made you uncomfortable today, I think that’s a good thing. Please send me a note in the comments below if you feel you need to talk more with me. I will get your contact information and we can chat.

Our pastor reminded us last night of something very significant: The Bible ends with an exclamation point. Embedded within that – all wrapped up in the end of God’s word – is this:

He is coming back soon and we are to look forward to it.

To do that, we must watch.

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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Fibromyalgia: Accepting while still Fighting

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How does a person accept something that is beyond difficult to live with without just giving up all at the same time? How does one walk right up to the line that spells acceptance, without dipping their toe over or crossing completely to the other side of that line? The other side of that line, to me, is resignation. That spells giving up in my little mind. And quite frankly folks, I’m having trouble wrapping that puny mind of mine around that idea.

To clarify, I will quote Michael J. Fox here:

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

I’m having trouble with where my toes should be planted – firmly. I don’t yet know how to accept, yet still fight. Will I ever understand this? Maybe that’s part of the whole thing. I’m asking God to show me. He’s revealed many things to me, yet I feel there’s something I am not seeing or hearing yet. I need to be a better listener.

For months and months now, I have been pretty certain that what is ravaging my body is Fibromyalgia, but we had to be sure and rule other things out before concluding that (the doctors and me). Now we are quite certain that I do have this F Beast along with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, like so many other things in my life over the past several  years, I am struggling with the line mentioned above (again).

I have a black and white mind when it comes to fight or flight…and that may be yet another reason Fibromyalgia has been able to run a marathon within my body. Make no mistake, there are clear cut physiological reasons why this happens to people, but working on the mind, stress, and a multitude of other things will only serve to help people who suffer from it.

Working at something usually spells “fight” to me, not “flight.”

Sometimes though, I think I am wrong about that. In fact, I’m sure I am often wrong about it. Sometimes, you gotta just let go. I have always equated that to giving up, but surrender is a form of fighting/battling all its own, it seems.

I seem to need a very good lesson in that arena.

Here’s the kicker: This Fibro/Fatigue stuff is not clear-cut… as in, you figure it out and how to manage it and you’re all good as long as you stay on track. Fibromyalgia is a BEAST of an illness to live with, manage, or even just merely endure. And this girl doesn’t want to simply cope, either. I could write a book or a volume of them about this illness, and maybe I will one day, but for now, it’s about that stupid line thing I mentioned earlier. (have I told you I hate the line yet?)

So….I have come to the conclusion that I need to accept this “diagnosis”, this illness. Let’s just call it what it is: ILLNESS. Ug.

And I am bummed out tonight friends, because I just don’t know how. I truly mean it when I say that I am certain I just have to pray for it ~ this acceptance. Acceptance of this illness that has no cure. Acceptance that there are more bad days than good ones. Acceptance that I have a butt load of work in store for myself just to be able to manage. Acceptance that I will probably never be the same again. Acceptance of day to day, and minute by minute change. (Have I told you I hate change unless I choose it for myself?)

Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance of things that my entire being screams against and wants to conquer, crush, obliterate, and fight to the end over!

But I know it’s key…this acceptance thing. I just know it. Somehow, fighting (not giving up) is a key player too. But I have to tell you a secret about that: They don’t get along. They don’t like to be on the same team. At least, not in this chick’s head.

And that’s gotta change.

So back to my question: How does one accept something, yet fight (which you HAVE to do with this illness if you want to have any quality of life at all) at the same time? If you have the answer, oh please, dear one….please share.

I know people who had or have cancer or other illnesses- received their diagnoses, course of treatment, and fought the good fight. They had to accept they had cancer, MS, RA, Lupus. They had the choice to fight or not to fight. They had the choice (hard one, as it was or is) to accept or become bitter and stubborn. Some were cured, and some weren’t, but all that I know personally fought. ALL.

So why do I feel so badly when there is honestly a part of me that doesn’t want to fight? I know that part of the answer is that somehow, I feel guilty because my illness isn’t “as bad” as some of the other ones out there, yet I want to give up.

I think also, that some of my own struggle is that there’s nothing that seems concrete to fight this thing with – one has to approach it holistically and hope for the best. But I guess that’s pretty much how it is with anything of this nature, isn’t it? Fibromyalgia may be more obtuse than other things, but it’s apparently not going to take my life.

Or is it?

See, you don’t die from Fibromyalgia. But it does eat away at your body, your mind and your soul. Chronic pain wears you down, yo. It’s literally a full time job to manage it. Just manage it. I already have a full time job, and a family to support. How can I keep this up? It’s wearing me down and I must admit, I just want to go to bed sometimes and not have to get up and keep going.

And I find myself still hoping – still hoping I will somehow come out the other side of this thing even though pretty much the one thing that IS conclusive about it, is that there is no cure.

God can do anything and I know it. But I’m just not of those kids who tells their Father to give them everything they want. I believe He will heal me fully if it is His will. He knows I believe it. And yes I do pray about it. But mostly, I pray that unless or until he does remove this from me, He show me more of Himself while teaching me how to live in the process and the part of this story I’m in right now.

So in a way, that part I have accepted ~ and that’s big. I have accepted that God’s will is going to be done, no matter what I do or don’t do.

It’s the physical limitations I am struggling with badly. And the full time job(s).

See, when you have this problem, no one tells you:

  • Hey, you can do exactly this much and you’ll be better (or able to cope)
  • You can walk but not run.
  • You can do situps but not weights.
  • You can eat only veggies or you can be overall healthy with your diet.

It’s all just a mushy mixed bag of “try this, try that” and maybe it will or won’t help you.

The whole thing is so confusing it can drive you nuts, which then puts the sympathetic nerves into even more overdrive, if that’s possible. And if you have the F Beast,  it’s probably possible, believe me.

I don’t know the answers, but I do know there are positive things about this too. I have mentioned them in previous blog posts, but I have more empathy for others than I had before. I have a greater understanding of chronic pain now. I just don’t get to do a lot about it, because I don’t have the energy – ha ha. (Is that funny? I don’t know – kinda a half joke, I guess).

So is it really just about learning about that stupid line of M Fox’s….the line between acceptance and resignation? The line upon which I stand and accept something crappy, yet decide daily to fight according to what lies right in front of me. Some days it’s about fighting really hard, and other days, the fight shows up in resting, surrender, and doing nothing – just coping. I guess that will have to be “what it is” for now.

But I know the answer to that ~ it’s not about just that line, friends. That line does not define me or offer a magic answer that if only I find it, will solve all of my problems. Only God can do that.

Lines can be erased. But God is my Rock.

There is someone who knows even more about suffering than all of us put together – who knows everything about it, really. Someone who understands, who cares, and who has the answer about that dumb old line and then some! Someone who offers a far greater hope for us than figuring out this riddle and simultaneously being able to do two opposite-type things. Someone who is far greater and far more vast than any disease, limitation, sorrow or syndrome.

That someone tells us:

I AM.

I am the Bread of Life….

I am the Light of the World…

I am the Gate….

I am the Good Shepherd…

I am the Resurrection and the Life…

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life….

I am the Vine…

I am from Above…

I AM.

I can accept that fully. Him ~ Jesus ~ The Great I AM.

I can and I do.

And I can fight for that fully. Him ~ Jesus….

I can and I do.

Yah….I’m moving past the line, but not into a place of resignation. The Rock just took its place instead.

They may not be pretty, but my feet feel better already.

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What lies in the Fringes?

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Is there something bothering you today that you cannot quite put your finger on, but is looming, hovering or threatening to consume you? Or maybe there’s something that you DO know and recognize all too well for exactly what it is and that thing seems to be a shadow you wish to shake off, or maybe even stomp upon until it’s DEAD!

Is there a memory there ~ something of a nightmare ~ that evokes fear and sadness and overwhelming desperation in your heart, mind, and soul? Something that makes you thrash and cringe as it encroaches upon your moments throughout your day? Is it creating a battle within your soul? Do you feel like you may be ambushed at any given moment?

Is that recollection of the pain, the angst, the possible enemy forces getting ready to pounce upon you, aiming arrows at your spirit? Or do you find yourself in a moment of peace today as you focus more upon the liberating and sweet feeling of having overcome ~ having come out the other side of something that felt so heavy at one time in your life? I must admit, I go back and forth between these two states sometimes. Just call me pendulum Annie.

We vacillate, friends. When we recollect those things which are very unpleasant, we can have days in which we feel such freedom now that it is not a part of our day to day anymore and then at other times we find ourselves enveloped in fear that some other form of that kind of pain we experienced will rear its ugly head once again.

What if it gets me and eats me up this time?

And it’s a part of human nature to do so…especially when it comes to things of the past that we hope to never have to experience again as long as air fills our lungs. But the enemy likes to feed off of human nature, doesn’t he? And he loves fear.

When you remember – look back to the hard of that time – how do you see that journey and how it helped your story evolve to where it is today? Was it a trek that you weren’t sure you could endure which resulted in something more beautiful, (maybe more tattered), but in some strange way, made you more whole than you were before? Is it something you hope to never have to repeat again, but that you can still stand in that same moment and realize some part of your character was strengthened from having gone through it?

And like me, do you find yourself hoping that it is finished? Once and for all, that the pain might be over? Are you succumbing to the illusion or the false sense of security that the temporal offers to you?

I do. I do it all the time.

But there’s a kind of beauty in that as well. As long as we are still growing, reaching, stretching and learning ~ there is beauty in having a hope for a bright tomorrow. There is beauty, also, to be found in basking in the goodness of today.

So, when we are in a good or better place than we used to be, we can fear returning to a bad place again, can’t we?

I do.

I fear grief. I fear more death. I fear instability, hardship, more pain, debilitation. I fear paralyzation.

I find myself at times entertaining the fear of what lies in the fringes.

When I fear, I find that I am judging good and bad based upon what the flesh tells me those things are. But the glorious – oh, the GLORIOUS work that the Lord works within us is not dependent upon our human limitations or notions of what is good or not good. Thanks be to Him. He is the truth, not my own notions. He is the constant, not what may lie ahead for me in this world. But my flesh….oh my stubborn flesh!

Is He being magnified within me even through the dark and difficult times? Are there things that are residing in the fringes of my life threatening to move front and center and replace Him?

It’s easy to have that happen if we aren’t on guard – far too easy.

And as I think about all of this, I ask myself: What about in the good times, Annie? The times I label as good (i.e. less hardship) ~ is He still front and center, or am I relegating HIM to the fringes?

In the times in which I perceive my need is not as great, do I truly press in to Him and His strength? Do I forget my need for my Savior?

Which is more to be feared ~ hardship in which I am beyond vulnerable and rely upon the Lord all the more, or self-sufficiency? I know all too well the answer to that question, and at times I need reminding. It can all be so utterly deceiving.

Who do you find yourself relating to better now that you have experienced darker times, friends? Times in which every nook and cranny of your life seemed consumed by something threatening or dark, but in which the Lord filled you with His love, His peace, His light, His comfort and yes, His joy, and lifted you up higher than you had ever been in spite of the sorrow and pain?

Do you understand others in a way you may not have been able to before? Are you able to show them the truth and love of Jesus – the truth about our Savior – in a way that seemed impossible before the nooks and crannies of your life were threatened?

Is there someone whose kind of suffering you scoffed at before you went through the hard that made you who you are today, magnified Jesus in your life, and moved Him from the fringes to the center?

I must admit, I find myself in that place at times, and with each new difficulty, I feel conviction. But then liberation ensues! Because God shows me something new about Himself and gives me an empathy and a drive and a kind of compassion for others I didn’t have before. The Jesus kind!

It’s all Him. This is one of the ways that He does his divine and beautiful will within each and every one of us. If we allow Him to work, great things will happen no matter what we go through in this life. Some of them, we will get to see come to fruition. Others? Well, that is for God to know about and we have to trust in Him that He is working. Magnificently and gloriously, He is working!

I often find myself uneasy during good times or circumstances. I find now it’s a mixture of fear to go through discomfort or pain again, (when Annie is taking over the wheels of her own mind and heart) and at other times it’s about not wanting to become complacent, desensitized, or over confident and begin living for the things I think that I can control (again).

Is it possible for us to enjoy the less challenging times without caving in to living for such things again? Can we truly rely in full upon our Savior without being greatly challenged? Do those two things actually co-exist?

Oh, Lord help us not to be sucked in – sucked in to living for anything other than You and what is near and dear to You. Oh, to live to the fullest as You intend, but not be chained to this world, it’s fears, it’s enticements, or it’s dark fringes. Oh, to enjoy life, family, friends and the blessings You bestow upon us without letting anything become more important than You. Oh, to lean into YOU, no matter what the situation or circumstance – because You are here – right in the center of it all.

To love and to laugh and to sing and to dance and to cry and to break and to moan and to sleep ~ all with Him at the center -

Not in the fringes.

Like babies – moment by moment, yet with eternity in our sights all at the same time. Is it possible?

  • Blur out assumed or presumed knowledge…
  • Blur out concerns, anxiety, and our busy moving and shaking…
  • Blur out all but this moment – this moment that is part of the ultimate moment ~ leading us up to that blessed time in which our real lives begin.
  • Blur out all that is anything other than being filled with Him His love for people.
  • Stepping into the fullness of what He has in store for us and starting now.
  • To put asunder notions, judgements, coveting, performance, success, failure, hurts, disappointments, fears.
  • To stand strong and courageous – not our kind of strong -but HIS.

Oh how wonderful it is to know that He will never leave us! He rescues us each and every day.

From hard and from easy, he rescues us.

From pain and challenge or complacency, he rescues us.

From the gray – oh the ugly gray! He rescues us!!!

Do you hear Him? He is calling His sheep.

Let us not, oh God relegate You to the fringes. Let us keep You front and center through the good, and through the hard times, through the fear, and through the peace, through the joy and through the sorrow, through the weakness and through the confidence – through it ALL – be the center.

And if anything is to be blurred – oh Lord…let it be the enemy and all of his trappings – relegate them to the fringes forever more.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27

Friends, if you feel this way sometimes, just close your eyes for a moment. Just listen. He is calling your name. Do not fear. You are HIS.

This song reminds me so much of my need for my Savior and my own need to listen for His voice. I listen to it with my eyes closed frequently. I hope you enjoy it if you have a few moments to listen. May you be blessed as you relegate the ugly to the fringes and let the Spirit of the Lord fill you from the inside out.

 

 

What Is Not Heard In the Silence

Annie B:

Whether you have a chronic illness, disease, or a seemingly never-ending trial you face today…this is a beautiful and encouraging post from my dear Heather. Check out her site after reading and let her know you support her as she encourages others through the pain!

Originally posted on 40YearWanderer ~ ~ ~ Heather Mertens:

In the silence…
The pain is deafening.
The exhaustion is overwhelming.
The fatigue is crushing.
The foggy brain is scary beyond words… because words literally can’t be found.
The all over body symptoms are relentless.
The feeling of defeat is real. REAL. REAL.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my Conversations With the Enemy. I let you in those moments. They are heart and soul crushing, but, as God is God, He provides the healing my heart and soul need in those moments. It’s just that those moments are happening more and more often.

Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ~ whatever your silent pain… I know it is REAL. I’m there with you. You are not alone. I know… it is a lonely feeling we get.

What will our future be like?

Chronic illness. Real. REAL.REAL.

These seem silent … like silent health…

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Grace Conquers Grief

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I thought grief was something I’d have a reprieve from after mama died about four years ago. I knew it would come back in new and even more twisted ways as life went onward, but I thought what I thought anyway.

I knew the grief of losing mama was not something to be dealt with and that it would then be over for once and for all. God made me fully aware of this fact when I experienced it with my father’s death decades ago.

So WHAT IS IT that I did NOT know that has thrown me for such a loop over the last year or two? A lot, friends. A whole lot. I was mistaken in thinking I had experienced “my share” of grief.

Grief shows up in so many ways that we don’t expect – new ways we aren’t familiar with and in times we may not expect it to darken our doorstep at all. When that happens, what we thought we understood or knew about grief goes right out the window and splats into a million pieces down below.

Since mama died, more deaths have occurred, more friends and family have gone through trials and sorrows that I can count, more heart-wrenching changes that, even in the midst of them, we knew God would work together for our good, have happened too. (Plus, have you noticed? The world is a mess!!!)

But presently  – this now that I am in – grief wants to take me,friends. The shards down below the window it splatted and catapulted out of have morphed and grown into something bigger, scarier, and more seemingly powerful than I had thought I’d experience at this time in my life.

Grief wants to own me, put its name upon me and seal it that way forever. Grief wants to make grace become second fiddle without question. Grief wants to define me, torment me, smash me and then overtake me.

Grief wants to eat me alive.

Guess what else I am learning that I hadn’t recognized about this greedy grief before? It’s that it has many friends. It’s many little minion-like friends do a tortuous form of damage all on their own. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which, is to compound the master that they serve – this is how grief breeds and grows.

  • Guilt.
  • Negative mind chatter (why can’t you just look at the bright side?)
  • Pain.
  • Depression.
  • Bitterness.
  • Anger.
  • Sorrow.
  • Anxiety.
  • Self Pity.
  • Relational Strife and Conflict.

The list goes on and on, but I can’t write it all out because I’m already crying at this point. (Sorry, but I am).

Here’s the thing friends: I know what I know what I know.  I just don’t feel it sometimes. That hurts and it hurts a lot (hence, more grief).

  • I know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
  • I know that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
  • I know we have been crucified in Christ and it is no longer “I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”

Yes, this list goes on and on too – and it comforts me so greatly that it does. It’s found in His Word – His truth – His promises to us. And for that, I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am.

But I don’t always feel good about it. Sad to say, but true. I am a mere little human whose flesh tries to take her eye off of God’s promises.

So today my heart grieves, even though my head knows the truth of His grace. Today, I struggle to find how to let the grace that He promises me weigh more than the feelings I am experiencing and meet me in the midst of it. Writing these things down today after a time of prayer is my way of reveling in His grace in the midst of the grief. God put it in my heart that maybe some of you feel this way too today.

Yes, until now, I was minimizing grace today and allowing grief to be magnified instead. And I HATE that.

How do you allow yourself to embrace the “bad” feelings that you may have and not beat yourself up about it?

Did you hear what I said? Not “live by” or “focus solely upon” but acknowledge and embrace and move through them!

How do you allow yourself to rest in His grace, but not pretend that grief isn’t present as well? (Instead of sucking it up, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, thinking of others instead and pretending your are just fine?)

How do you reach a point where you press into God and His strength and His comfort, (while in the midst of suffering), but not feel badly that you are sad in the first place?

Here’s what I do all the time on days like this – this is a snippet of my crappy mind chatter that I have to cry out to God about – ask Him to remove – obliterate – conquer.

  • “You can’t possibly be focusing upon the negative of this fibromyalgia again, can you? There are people out there way worse off than you. You need to focus upon all that you DO have.”
  • “You are dragging other people down with the vibes  you give off on these (more often than not) heavy pain days. Even when you don’t talk about it, they sense it. You need to have a different mindset and think more of others around you.”
  • “You know that people think you are making this up, right? You realize that people are starting to see you as someone who either is pretending they have this illness to get attention or get out of doing for others.”

I know this is negative, friends. But I have something positive to share with you about all of it. You can’t see the positive in full and give it the credit it deserves if you don’t journey through the ugly first. At least, that’s what I’ve found. You can pretend, but it doesn’t really work that way.

Did you hear what I just said? THAT is the positive in this. Not just this blog post, but this journey we are on if we are experiencing chronic illness, suffering, sorrow or trial of any kind. It’s part of how the Lord reveals Himself and His power in ways to us we never “knew” before.

By allowing the season of sorrow to be magnified – overtaking us almost (seemingly), if we are searching for Him and His grace, we “feel” what we “know” about Him in a way we never could before.

This I know. This I cling to.

Him.

In the midst of my new and unexpected season of grief.

What’s my grief about today? I miss who I once was – vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy, optimistic, driven, rested. Happy. This is what I thought was the essence of me. I am learning that means just what it means…

It. Was. Still. ME.

What’s His grace about today? In the sorrow and the suffering, a part of “self” is being crucified and WILL be filled with HIM in ways it never could be before!

You gotta empty the WHOLE vessel before you can fill it with ALL good stuff.

That means…. dump time. All that seems to be “good” has to be dumped out along with the “bad”.

We cling, friends. I admit to you today, I am clinging to the parts of Annie I wanted to keep. The beautiful parts I didn’t want dumped out with the ugly. But I know that these are the parts, that if I did keep them, would have been residing in the crevices of the potter’s jar and taking up space that He wants to fill with Himself.

I wanted to keep them.

But I know something awesome – (because He tells me it’s so). Those good parts of Annie I am clinging to and grieving over today? They are CRUD compared to what He is going to replace them with.

Absolute DIRT.

So yes, there’s a time to grieve. But there’s a time also to know in the midst of the grief that His grace is already here, and that He is doing something magnificent right now, and that He understands that it hurts a bit. Maybe even more than a bit.

No matter what the season, the one thing that never has to change, is that HE IS ALWAYS HERE.

I am being reborn in Him every single day. How about you? Some days it’s harder than others. Do you feel that too in your own life?

Do you know that birth is a wonderful event, yet a traumatic one as well? We like to focus upon all the feel-good stuff when it comes to a new birth, but we so often forget about what happened in the journey and the adjustment periods. All you have to do is really think about it for a moment – a newborn baby – the birth process – the sleepless nights – the terrible twos – it’s not something that is always a pretty picture.

But one thing’s for sure: No matter how fussy a baby is, or how fitful a toddler might be, it always seems to help when they surrender fully and allow their parent to soothe them.

Soothing in every season – surrender in every season – for me, that’s where it has to be. Won’t you join me if you feel the same way today? Join me in the lap of our Almighty Father. The parent of all parents. The One who never changes.

The One whose grace WILL conquer our grief.

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Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

 

Cutting It Right Down the Middle ~ 30 Days of Godly Wisdom

So, God is giving me a nudge….He has His reasons. He will reveal them to me. His timing is always perfect. He’s knocking. He’s telling me to take a break – from a lot of things. He’s telling me to step away with Him for a while….to a different place. Oh, how hard it is to let go.

Wisdom given ~ revelations and guidance to be received.

Healing.

Focus.

Basics.

Milk. Survival.

Listening.

Input from HIM.

Yes, I will cut the 30 Days of Godly Widsom blog series short…it will be finished, but not until I get God’s green light.

This is a new thing for me ` To stop something in the middle. Oh, the disorganization of it all!

To leave something unfinished? To stop short?

Yes…oh yes, friends. I gotta take a break right in the middle of it all.

Because His timing is perfect.

He tells me to wait. To listen. To pray in a more focused way.

Eleven left. Eleven left to complete the 30 days series.

It’s not even an even number, Lord!

What will He reveal during this gap? What will He fill the space I make here with? Something of Himself and His wisdom, I am sure. Something of His glory.

What shall He reveal to me during this time of healing and listening?

I will be praying for you, dear friends. I will be reading what you share as you write and I break for a while.

Know that I am praying and this is part of HIS timing.

I can’t wait to find out what’s in store.

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Origination Point ~ 30 Days of Godly Widsom

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And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:18

Cynical Much? 30 Days of Godly Widsom

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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”  Proverbs 9:10-12

Opening Oswald ~ 30 Days of Godly Widsom

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Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?  Romans 2:1-3

When to Do Good ~ 30 Days of Godly Wisdom

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Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Fibromyaglia Awareness Day – May 12

Annie B:

VERY good post on Fibromyalgia!

Originally posted on Fighting Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! In honor of this, I thought I’d repost one of my first posts discussing what fibromyalgia is. Wear your purple today and show everyone you are a fibromyalgia warrior! #FibromyalgiaAwarenessDay

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Originally posted 07/30/2012

What is Fibromyalgia?

For those of you who (unfortunately) aren’t already intimately aware of what fibromyalgia is, I thought I’d give a brief introduction to it.  Fibromyalgia is also know as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) and chronic pain disorder.  It actually has some links to PTSD, as far as the way the brain works — or rather the way it works but isn’t supposed to be working.  Here is the definition of fibromyalgia from the Mayo Clinic’s website.  I find that WebMD has some outdated information on fibromyalgia and prefer to reference sites like Mayo’s.

Fibromyalgia ribbon

Definition
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers…

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