Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Choosing to Draw Near

Tonight was spent searching. Searching back over ramblings from this medically intense journey, re-reading lessons learned along the way. Stories from past seasons jog memories, and rather than linger, I kick against the goads. Another diagnosis has been added and I am already stretched thin. I know that each new diagnosis must be grieved, worked through, but I'd rather be where I was, in a place of schedules and simpler uncertainties. I've come so far, still I have much to learn and live out.

Again I am caught in a cross-fire of medical chaos. Unanticipated? Not really. Unaccepted? For sure. No parent wants to watch their child suffer. A mother's heart is pierced by her child's pain. Pieces of me cleaved and torn again, old fears resurfacing along the way. For years I've spent my days carefully guarding a sometimes fragile life- a multitude of moments seeking to accept that it is God who sustains breath, while I am stretched to find balance in the roles of caregiver, teacher, nurturer. A new label has me asking, "Have I done this well?" Not perfectly, for my flaws are gaping still- but well? Some days, yes. Other days I am a mess and must simply trust in God to fill in the gaps in my mothering.

  Years ago, I wrote of New Beginnings: 

I am finding that faithfulness is a choice. It does not happen by chance. I have been stretched; this choosing has not "come naturally". It has taken a great deal of effort to concentrate on keeping the commitment, especially when I have little energy left. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth and push myself to step into Him. I am finding that as I shake off the slumber, even when I am dead tired, my soul is alive in Him. I am learning to make a conscious effort step away from the things that He is calling me out of, and instead make the choice to advance into Him. To go deeper still.


I am struggling to return to the habit of exercise. In past seasons I've found release and much relief in movement. Yet now I am tired, worn- physically as well as emotionally. Again I find I must  fight off lethargy, shake out of the bleariness of soul and body. I do not want to get up. 

I want to recover. I want to find respite in old comforts, take my mind off the fears and the stressors and simply enjoy shopping for Christmas ornaments or indulging in a delicious delicacy. I've been fighting this battle for so long and I just want a little luxuriating a long the way. In my heart of hearts I know that ribbons and treats are passing pleasures which offer only temporary contentment. Still, I find myself climbing up to the altar while looking for a ram caught in the thicket; I want a way out. I want simplicity to return to this jagged life- I want wellness and wholeness and relief from the struggles that consume my schedule and my energy.

As my lack of control comes to light, fear rises. I am propelled forward, each step permeated by a numb distress. I press on, uncertain of the outcome. Prayerful in one moment, resisting in another. Longing to be cradled, yet too worn to climb into a tangible embrace.

I know God is with me, yet struggle to hear the soothing Voice- a whisper threading through sadness and yet another loss. Unknowns are daunting, new treatments bring uncertainty. Again I have a choice. Will I struggle through alone, or allow Love to draw near?

Years ago, I reconciled: it is very important be obedient so that I can be drawn deeper into Him. So I get up and propel myself into my prayer closet... On the floor, kneeling before the space heater, draped in a Snuggie, the Lord and I meet.

Now, in this season, I have another opportunity to surrender and draw near. I am so tired. I don't know how to get to the place where I am no longer afraid to lose my son.

 Again it is time to fight for wellness, to propel myself into the only TRUE safe place- God's heart, holding me in the midst of pain, sorrow, even grief and fear.  I grasp the truth that He IS the gift in the suffering. I cannot know the future, nor can I control the present. Yet I do know the only One who is Comforter and provider for me- and my precious son as well.

~Just Me



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Strength For Today

I find myself overwhelmed these days. I want to run, I want to tunnel in, I want to find lasting rest; freedom from this dizzying pace.

In seasons when I rush to and from medical appointments, trying to find a time to fit in grocery shopping can be a challenge. I miss that slower pace, recognize my need to unwind, remember a recent retreat (in Ireland). Together with other wounded warrior families, for an entire week Roger and I were blessed by lavish love. Such an amazing gift, having every one of my needs met- often without even asking.



We came home, jolting into reality .  My teenage son was dealing with major health issues and urgent appointments needed to be made. Difficult conversations have peppered the weeks since our return- and even more medical appointments than usual. I am so very grateful for the respite granted, and when I close my eyes I can still see the lush greens that soothe and heal a heart battered by busy-ness.





Now it seems there are different mountains to climb; again my life is consumed by simply trying to keep one son alive, and care for the needs of the other. At times I feel that I cannot handle ONE more thing. Yet there is homework to be done, teachers to contact, missed class work to turn in- even some class work to complete because though my son was present, he did not feel well enough to do the work.  

Recovery is a process, but life goes on-- while we are simply trying to exhale.  

Oswald Chambers speaks of being overwhelmed, of fear seeping in as I focus on my circumstances. Life can be overwhelming. Yet this I know- I am only free, when I rest in the Presence that secures and sustains. 
 


Safer than a castle stronghold, providing help every step of the way. Steadying, strengthening against both external and internal pressures. A man named Peter is often criticized for sinking in a storm. Yet when overwhelmed, Peter knew Who to call to for his saving. This is not so much a story of failure, but an example of hope. 

As Blood Glucose levels crash and swell, and emotions follow suit, I can reach for the hand of the only One who can save me. From fear, from anger, from myself and my own shortcomings.

Breathing deep has been a necessary practice; a sustained exhaling, two beats longer than the inhale. I am learning to Just Breathe- two counts in and four counts out.
In:  one, two... Out: one, two, three, four.  
Slowly, surely releasing stress and finding restfulness.

This moment, it is imperative to release my anxieties and seek stillness. To stop trying to control everything, and focus on controlling what I turn to-
 and Who, amidst the chaos.



 I do not know how long the climb will be- and I don't have to.  

I can discipline my mind to focus on the needs of is moment. I can train my heart to connect to my Source, trusting in the strength that comes today- for this ONE step. Later we can approach the next step, and the one to follow.

Such an amazing gift, having every one of my needs met-every care in my heart covered. All I have to do is reach out and connect to the One who is my saving.

It is a day by day, moment by moment transaction, and it's the only way to know true rest.

~Just Me






Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Heart of the Brave

This morning I seize a few precious moments of quiet while munching Irish cheese and strawberries (of the American variety.) Back from across the ocean after days of pressing beyond fatigue, I finally take a moment to stop. Stop posting pictures on social media, stop chasing Facebook feeds in between medical appointments and STOP unpacking and washing and sorting and re-organizing. I've been up at 4 am and then, thankfully, at 5 as my body adjusts to another time zone, and I've been rushing forward so I can elude the fatigue. 

Sometimes life is like this. We run, not towards something, but from it.  There is a biological alert set off by pain. Fix it, stop it, hold it at bay. Chase after anything that takes our minds off it... we become afraid to sit still because we might just fall apart.  Prolong the chase, numb the pain, escape for one more moment. Yet I have learned it's the falling apart I need most.

I saw it this week- big burly guys allowing grief and loss pour out, recognizing the biological need for release. Such willingness to face devastation is beautiful. Breath entangled in tears, sorrow reaching across the room, touching every kindred heart. It is excruciating to sit there and try to remember how to breathe and not break down- because I desperately need the breaking down. We need this disassembling of walls because they don't hold us together; they hold us apart.

In medically challenging circumstances we speak of 'daily braveness'- and what is bravest of all is to look into what has broken us and grasp the hand beside us so we can begin to heal. This is consecrated community- we need each other. When a heart has been dragged across shards of shrapnel, the truth is that we are only alone in the battle if we choose to be.

Near the end of last week the opportunity was offered to give feedback. The heart of the question was how to best meet the many varying needs of such a large group. Some desperately need to hear the others' stories, and some are not ready to hear that which stirs up their own woundedness.

I don't have all the answers but I know this: pain is a sign that something needs to be dealt with- whether in spirit, soul, or body. When pain rises up, the guttural reaction is to press it down, hide it behind a brave front. I am still learning that it takes great courage to face the pain- and even more to share it. Yet sharing is cathartic- especially in a group of souls who walk a similar road. The greatest gift offered is the gift of hearts who understand. I've shared more than once that sometimes, when I talk about my life, people look back at me with a cross between shock and horror. Last week all I experienced was empathy and encouragement and extravagant love. 

The gathering together in a real life adventure, the living and eating and sharing stories and bonding over shared suffering is a balm like no other. These gatherings carve out a climate of safety- a place to cry out and not be judged. Sometimes this gathering can save a life, a marriage. And sometimes, it is the anchoring of a floundering soul.

There is such courage within the men and women I met this last week- they are a very real reminder that I do not walk alone. Healing can seem a titanic task- yet these brave souls embody this truth: our strength is in each other. When we can't be strong on our own, we do not have to be. 

We may be broken, but we are all in this together, and healing is possible- when we are willing work through the pain, with help from understanding hearts and those trained to help us.

Fight or flight is a daily choice; we all have the power to choose. We can claim daily braveness and choose the work of healing, day by day,  moment by moment, never alone-   until the darkness becomes a little brighter, and in time, brighter still. 


~Just Me 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy, Or Whole?

All I ever wanted was a normal, "happy" life. As a teen I assumed I would marry, have children, and live the average christian life- singing in the choir, teaching children's church, maybe lead a bible study every now and then. When I was called to a "special" ministry I thought I would end up serving in an orphanage in a poverty stricken country, or perhaps be a missionary's wife. I never would have imagined that I would end up in the suburbs near Dallas, not leading bible studies, or teaching Sunday School, but rather, facilitating medical care for three family members with various medical diagnoses. 

Special indeed, this "Special Needs Lifestyle".  Am I happy? Some days, yes. Some days I am a stressed out wreck. Some days it's all I can do to balance it all- and forget about "keeping it together". But I would not trade this journey for all the "happiness" in the world, because this often chaotic life is what teaches me about God's plan for my wellness and healing. 

There's been a lot of buzz on social media regarding whether God wants us to be happy or not. My go to quip is "God wants us to be WHOLE, not happy." On a deeper level, I would add that God created us for fellowship with him. Happiness cannot complete us-Only God can. Chances are, we are going to face a lot of days where we are not happy- and it's imperative to know Who to run to in the chaos and in the calm.

Recently I've found myself frustrated, anxious, and generally under a lot of pressure. Parents of typical kids may breathe a sigh of relief when they send their kiddos back to school, yet I tend to find myself putting on the Armor of God and going into battle. Sometimes the way is smooth and school personnel are knowledgeable and cooperative. Other times, not so much.

This year I am "training" a new school nurse who has experience and knowledge, but has been distracted by the learning curve and her case load.  This past week has been frought with challenges- a veritable emotional minefield.

I felt angry when the new nurse did not focus on our (multiple) conversations long enough to answer her own questions.
 
I felt frustrated when she couldn't find the supplies I had brought to school for his care (important items like insulin and snacks). 

I felt out of the loop and anxious when she called the emergency line at the diabetes clinic each time my son's Blood Glucose level was out of range- instead of contacting me or simply following the care plan.

I felt determined when I called the nurse's supervisor, relieved when the supervisor listened to my concerns, and scheduled a meeting the next day to resolve the issues. 

I felt a lot of emotions this week, and none of them have been happiness. Anger, yes. Comfort, yes. Relief, yes, YES!! As each obstacle has been prayed over and then overcome, I've known God's guidance, provision, and goodness in the midst of my struggling.

I've been reminded to take care of me to offset the stress: to exercise (movement releases stress) and pray, pour out- another way to relieve stress. I've found comfort in placing everything that is out of my control in the hands of the One who can change others' hearts, and heal my own. Release of pent up emotions has been key, and I've found healing as I get out into the green spaces I love to walk and pray, run, and release.

I've also been reminded to rest. Creating new care plans and working with multiple teachers for each of my sons (16 teachers, not including the Counselors and nurses), as well as managing the many medical appointments has left me wiped out physically and emotionally. I am learning to take time to recover in spirit, soul, and body. To BE STILL. To Rest and pray... release and find rest.

Am I happy at this very moment? No- but I am content- and Peace in heart, soul, and body resonates long after momentary happiness has passed.

"Too Blessed to Be Stressed?" Not so much. While I appreciate the reminder of perspective, sometimes I am stressed, regardless of perceived "blessings". At the end of the day- and in the middle, and the early morning too, the true blessing comes as I connect with God. Often, He works not to remove the stressors, but rather to soothe me in the midst of them, granting wisdom to walk through the battle connected with his love, and gentle strength. There is courage in connectivity to the One who carries and equips.

 For me, the Blessing is God, Himself. A precious Presence in my life, this Voice leading, guiding, calming me when medical chaos- or life in general- would otherwise overwhelm me. It's when I get to a quiet place and BE STILL that I recognize he IS the blessing- whether I am "happy" or not, whether life is what I want or not, whether a storm is raging or not.

There is only One who IS the gift in my every moment. The One who holds me in the quiet places, and in the storms too. I am at peace in God alone. Happy? Not recently, no. But joy comes as I connect to the One who is my Source- the One who moves me to greater wellness whether it's enjoyable or not.

I used to want to be happy- and while I don't object to happiness (I still prefer it to those other emotions) at the end of the day I have to confess I'd rather be whole.

~Just Me





Saturday, August 30, 2014

When Those You Love Grieve

Nine years ago this week, war hit close to home. While stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, my next door neighbor met me in the driveway with news I was unprepared for; her close friend, a young woman I served on the praise team with,  had been notified a few hours before that her husband had been killed in action.

I went numb. It seemed symbolic that the sun began to set as her words tumbled out. I didn't know if I should embrace my neighbor- nor did I have a clue what to say. We stood together in our shared driveway, shocked, sorrowful, and awkward- while I struggled to process this incomprehensible loss.

It got worse. While my family back home was celebrating multiple birthdays, my military community was rocked by multiple KIA notifications (Killed In Action). By the end of the week, our losses numbered in the teens. I knew one of the widows by name only, and had a casual friendship with another.  Yet now, everyone in our military family seemed knit together by enormous loss. 

Our community was reeling. Some were consumed with "secondary grief" (sorrow felt for another), as well as fear. Most wanted to help, but did not know how. Many tried to call and could not get through.

Intimate friends formed a circle around each widow to protect her from the overwhelming outpouring of sentiment. Those of us in leadership roles at the chapel formed a line of support for those shielding the bereaved.  Everyone who knew these precious ladies wanted to reach out and help in some way- but a deluge of well meaning shock and grief would simply be too much. 

I grieved most for the widow I knew- and for a close friend whose husband served alongside those who were killed. It was difficult to talk about, and still today there is a tender place in my prayers for each of these ladies- and for the soldiers who served alongside those who were killed.

That season taught me lessons about grief that equipped me in my own place of sorrow. A different kind of loss, and a very different process, yet there is truth that rings across the boundaries of suffering.


First- not everyone who feels the weight of someone else's loss is meant to be welcomed into the inmost places of that grief. The best way to support the grieving is simply to offer support- and not press if the offer remains unaccepted. Those dealing with grief need a safe place to pour out, and this may not be your calling every time. Put aside your wants and pray over your role- accepting every hemming in.

My role tends to be a call to pray. Prayer is powerful, and a privilege, as I get to see many answered prayers in the lives of those I have supported over the years. In the midst of terrible suffering prayer is not a last ditch effort. Prayer is the best way to approach unspeakable loss. 

Never make light of it.


Second- we are "meaning makers"- we try to explain or make sense of every terrible thing that happens. When confronted with another's loss, people say the most ridiculous things. The desire to comfort coupled with discomforting internal questions can cause platitudes to trip off the tongue:

 "God never gives you more than you can handle"- which, in my own life has proved repeatedly untrue
 "I know how you feel"- as if any loss is ever the same as another
  "It's just God's plan"- it is rare to know God's plan for another

These phrases do not help--in fact they are both hurtful and damaging to someone already in pain.

The most honest offering I have ever heard is:  "I really don't know what to say, but I want you to know I care". 

I love the acknowledgement that sorrow causes awkwardness, even among friends. I admire honesty that goes beyond sympathy, revealing authentic love. Here is the comfort of presence in a time when words will only fall short.



Third, and most important- Tears are a part of healthy grieving. Tears are key in the recovery process, in fact, tears are pivotal in any process towards greater healing. Never tell someone not to cry, and never be ashamed of your own tears, for crying is a biological response, natural and needed.  Tears are not a weakness, they are a gift to help us through. Healing will not, and can not come, without tears.

My friend who lost her husband 9 years ago posted a quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler this week. It reminds me that grieving is a journey that lasts a life time. We do not "get over" loss, we simply learn to "rebuild around the loss suffered."

"You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to." 

Years later, tears are still a gift. They honor our love, and give release to the emotions we were created to express. In sorrow, and times of stress, may we embrace this gift, as well as the loving Comforter who holds us close- if only we will nestle in and release.

~Just Me




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connectivity Amidst Chaos

Some days I want to run, but need to rest instead. I am in recovery; from a night in the hospital with my son, and from the guttural urge towards striving. I feel overwhelmed by all the needs in my home, yet find myself propelled forward, numb but driven, propped up only by my own strength. Rest is needed, time set apart to refuel and be restored in spirit, soul, and body. I struggle to be still. Anxieties crowd my vision; I know where help is found, yet pull back. Why? Self-reliance? Fear? Or am I simply too exhausted to try?

 As I send updates to friends and family, I am reminded to practice connecting with God in the midst of chaos. It's not always easy.

When I am consumed by the moment, when time is marked by the streaming in and out of medical personnel, it's hard to remain connected. I am distracted, yes, but aware of my need, and so I seek the comfort of social media, soothed by the well wishers and prayer warriors alike. Time passes, my son's condition improves, and all that needed to be reported has been shared. We have reached a plateau, and now I must simply wait, in the wee hours of the morning. Sleep has never come easy in times like these, yet I make a conscious effort to still- in body and mind.

Nurses confer in the hallway and a small child cries. I remember when that was my son, years ago, just after diagnosis, when he resisted treatment. I remember being sent out of the room, standing disconnected in the hallway, breaking apart inside- and I pray for the family. For the child to find healing from medical trauma, for the parents to find comfort in God, and trust in his mercies, alone. Truth sparks inside me- I too, must seek connectivity with my Source. When exhaustion swamps my mind and the only coherent sentence I can wring out is "Jesus help me"-- he does.

Once home, needs swamp me. Monitor Blood glucose levels, dispense meds, schedule appointments, field phone calls, attend appointments, soak the wound, wrap the fracture, throw together dinner- and  wonder when I'll get to the dishes and laundry.  Achieving balance between appointments for one son and the other seems precarious at best. I feel like I am drowning in musts: I must change the dressing on the injured foot, I must cook healthy meals, I must drive all over the metro-plex to medical appointments. I must find time for recreation, and meet sensory needs. Most urgent I MUST keep my son out of the ER so we can meet with the surgeon on on Thursday... I MUST keep my son alive-- and well. My stomach knots; I am afraid I cannot accomplish this feat. It's an old fear, cloaked in  the disguise of false responsibility.  

Self reliance is stealthy temptation, drawing my heart away from the One who saves me every moment.

My youngest chatters about Superman and Wonder Woman in between Brain Balance appointments and I wonder... Where does this drive to know all and do all come from? And how do I escape the trap of self sufficiency? My emotions are frayed and I feel fragile. Trying to control everything only adds layers of exhaustion. Tears are evidence of stress held in too long. I can not be in two places at once.

When stress is high, and I'm coming undone, I want tangible support. I tend to gravitate towards human hands and hearts, and while community is key, anxiety remains undiminished by sympathy. I am discovering that desperation is only soothed by dependance on the One who is my Source.

 I am not at rest until I get still, breathe deeply of the Presence that soothes. So I sit, in the car, between appointments, and Just Breathe. I try to pray, yet lingering resistance dams my emotions. I am afraid to let go, afraid the dam will break and I will fall apart. I shift focus, to answer a message of concern coming in, and I try to sound brave. I am not. I crumble. The dam has broken, and I finally find sweet release. Tears stream down my cheeks, and  I realize I was holding on too hard to too much. I can not be all-sufficient, but I do not have to be- for there is a Sure Strength beyond my own.


I realize: Release is a gift, not a weakness. Prayer is the conduit that connects me to an authentic communion that reaches beyond compassion. Prayer's purpose, in these moments, is not immediate cessation of difficulty, but rather the connection with all consuming peace in heart and mind.


My Prayer:
Father God, open my eyes to self sufficiency and false responsibility- especially in the midst of distractions. In the calm, and in the chaos, still my heart. Train my ears to hear your voice, connecting with you in the moment. Teach me to rely on you alone, for only you can fill me up and make me well.

I now release each and every specific concern to you ___________________

___________________________________________________________

____________________.

I lay everything on the altar before you, and release. I choose to rest in your sufficiency, to be cradled by your love. I choose to move forward in your strength and seek your presence every step of the way, for you are my Safe Place.


~Just Me



Saturday, July 19, 2014

To Run and Not Grow Weary

Some days I don't want to run. Especially when nights stretch long as I comfort a son dealing with tummy troubles, and check the other's BG levels every couple of hours through the night. Still, I recognize the need push through the cobwebs clinging to body and soul, and run the race set before me. I shake off slumber and press through exhaustion on a wing and a prayer. "God help me," I breathe, pushing forward.

Shoes laced, music playing, I step out into the concrete jungle, making my way to the green space behind our neighborhood. Pinks blaze across a pale blue sky, and C25K compells me: "Begin your warm up now."

As with life, one step is all it takes to make a new beginning. My prayer is that God would order each step, for he sees beyond the borders, past all boundaries, above and beyond everything that clouds my vision. I long to know the Truth for the One who IS truth sets me free. Faith requires determination and trust, yet the Lover of My Soul honors even my baby steps.

A voice breaks into my reverie. "Begin Running." I strain forward, work to find the breath to run.  My knees hurt, and sleepiness pursues. I press on, prayerfully. "God, give me strength." Positive self talk, for what I tell myself determines what I believe. "I can do this. Jesus help me!" As I lean into a strength beyond myself, I am building endurance and trust.

"Begin Walking." Oh, thank you Jesus. This morning I need that walking break. I look to the hills beyond this track and breathe deep, preparing for the next run. And then it's time. Time to push beyond my own weak strength and persevere.

"You are halfway." Oh, if only life had such alerts! Yet, even now I am encouraged by the words of a prayer warrior and friend, knowing God has brought us out of the darkness into His glorious light. We have passed through the place of deadness and carnage and are moving towards greater wellness. God is good. All the time. Even when I can't see it. When life is painful and my needs are not met, when my dreams and wants are crushed beneath diagnoses and trauma, God is still good. Grieving is not only acceptable, but needed, and in time, restoration always comes. In my own life I've known intimately God's work of giving Beauty for Ashes.

The comforter provides for all those who grieve, the greatest Gift of all: more Presence. The Eternal reaches beyond temporal devastation, granting joy where there was only depression-- as I choose to draw near. So much of life allows little choice- but we are not bound to endless disappointment. Whether life knocks me on my rear, or my face, I still have the power to choose. Will I hold my Restoration at arms length, or allow the Healer to move into the deepest places of my heart and soul, so that I may be set free? 

The world offers a temporary freedom that only binds me to brokenness, but the Lover of My soul sets boundaries for my own protection, my own health and well being. Sometimes trust seems a risky choice, but Jesus never fails me. Amazing sacrifice, so we no longer have to stumble forward. 

He is THE GIFT. It's time to run again-to run to Jesus. To press in, go deep. The way to get up the steepest inclines is determination grounded in prayer. Commitment is the real test of our mettle, but the reward is beyond imaginable. A heart made whole, and more, because I've nestled into the Heart of God, and now I understand what it is to be held, comforted, Set Free!

The real test for Christ followers is whether we will move past plodding in his footsteps and determine to embrace His presence in our daily lives.  No matter what lies the enemy spouts, the truth is, we have the power to choose. Death or life. Temporary appeasement, or lasting wellness.

I strain past fatigue, pouring out all brokenness to Jesus. Surrender sets me free. Release clears the clogged heart, allowing my soul to rise. As I push myself to pursue wellness, one foot in front of the other, up the hill, over its crest- the view is always worth the work.

"Let us run with perseverance" this race we know as Life, reaching forward, pressing deeper into Jesus-for  there is only One Name that rescues, One Presence that sustains, One touch that brings healing and wholeness in the inmost places. 

~Just me


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lingering

I wake, before dawn. Midnight has faded to smokey grays and bright coral pink blazes across the horizon. Tiny dots of yellow-y white dissect the hills, moving in formation. A chorus of birdsong almost drowns out the distant highway, and trees reach towards heaven, undisturbed by the cool morning breeze. Is this heaven here on earth?

I wish I could stay here, drinking in the early morning peace. Sirens from the neighborhood fire station break into the tranquility, and I thank God that today they are not for my son. I breathe a prayer for the family involved, and think of the week's many medical appointments.

We are learning about Brain Balance. Three days a week, for three months, a few cities away, dotted by follow ups at Carrick Brain Center in Irving, and diabetes appointments in Dallas. Add into the mix the "Home Program" for my husband and younger son- rigorous exercises three times a day, plus a mandatory "outside activity" and a parent chosen "chore", not to mention the continual chasing of Blood Glucose levels up and down and all around (hormones)... I find my days are chock full of medical stipulations. 

Just yesterday, a friend on social media posted, "Busy can be good if you love the busy you do." A much needed reminded in this season, when we have medical appointments Every. Single. Day... and sometimes two a day in different cities. I am grateful for the blessing of a reliable vehicle to carry us from place to place, and for the miraculous provision of these appiontments-yet I so needed the reminder. I love the ones whose needs keep me busy, and as I traverse the metroplex, I am driven to One Source alone.

Now, I breathe deep, realizing that this moment, here, is a gift, a provision for the wellness of my soul. Here, on the back porch, with blue rising and pink spreading across the sky, I am filled. This is loving provision, meeting of a desperate need for peace amidst a very busy schedule.

Again, gratitude washes over me, coupled with the realization that I must seize these moments, must exert discipline to see that my own needs are met. I linger, now, for soon it will be time to run.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rest

In this moment, I need the simplicity of quiet and rest. I live just far away from family to not be at every event, and often, calls bridge the gap between celebrations and attending. My special needs family requires living differently, in many ways. This creates an overwhelming need in me to draw apart and simply seek Peace in the inmost places. Daily, weekly... even on special Celebration Days. Years ago I would have made the trip, two weekends in a row. I would have pushed through managing multiple medical issues, until I was spent, filled only by fatigue and utter exhaustion. I learned the hard way what works, and what, in the end, only depletes wellness.

Sometimes I feel confined by Diabetes, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder (among the other special needs I care for). Yet, most days I recognize the intentional hemming in. Not "despite the boundaries", but because of them I have learned what it is to continually press in. I understand that I can not deal with all this on my own. To move forward, I have to seek Strength beyond what I can muster.

Still, it is easy to become engrossed in the day to day managing of so many special needs- and when I am engulfed in a mess of medical mayhem, I often press on without pressing in. In these times, I tend to carry an awful lot of baggage and not even know it. Life tumbles on, and I deal in bursts- bursts of hormones and blood glucose levels, eruptions of emotions, and battles of will (including my own).

Balancing diabetes symptoms with hormonal surges in these last months has been exhausting.  After a long season of addressing diabetes complications due to puberty (amidst end of the school year activities), this first week of summer has lit up an urgency in me, an essential "letting go", and an intentional "filling up".

My son's endocrinologist asked him this week what he was doing over the summer. His answer?  "Resting." Simple and to the point. We need recovery time. While other families traipse to camps and theme parks and family vacations, what my family needs most right now is rest. We need a different kind of recreation in this season; a quiet refreshing, a time to recover, to be enfolded in tranquility, allowing serenity to nestle deep into the places that are filled only by seeking stillness, quietude.

It's all good. Relaxation is a needed resource, a necessary life gift. A way to unwind before I unravel, a conduit of connection with my Source.

   
So today, I will call those I love, connecting over the miles, and then, I will engage in purposeful refueling. I will close my eyes, breathe deep, give thanks for the many gifts in my life, and revel in lavish rest.

~Just Me



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rest-Less?

Some days I run until I'm breathless. I run in the park, straining forward, pushing beyond my own strength, praying- and reaching through the wind to the One who is my help. 

I run home (more of a brisk walk) up the hill, around the corner, feet pounding in time with every exhale. I fill my belly with fuel for the day, and press on, managing medical needs. Calls to doctors and medical supply companies, organizing finances and our home. Not a rushing, no, more of a steady pace to get through the list of priorities.  Asked to take breaks along the way to listen to needs and respond. Then, time for more fuel, and I begin to wilt, realizing my need to STOP and press in.

This season stretches on, nights broken by multiple blood glucose checks, days punctuated by calls from the school nurse- daily, hourly. Every moment seems to hold difficult decisions to be made: should my man-child push through diabetes symptoms to be at school one class period longer, or should he come home and rest- and later have to make up what he's missed?  Sometimes ketones make the decision for us.

The weeks fly by and while I take in the beauty of spring, I wonder where time has gone... praying I spent it well, managing the days, rather than using them up. For when I rush through and forget where to find sustenance- in the One who IS my strength and wisdom... well, then I find I am all out of breath again. So I am learning to create moments of connection throughout the day, often around meals. As I nourish my body, I seek to refuel in soul and spirit, too.

Today's release was an exercise in soaking...lingering.  Leaning back, truly resting. A sweet voice lilted through iTunes:

You dwell in the songs that we are singing
Rising to the heavens,
Rising to your heart, your heart

Our praises, filling up the spaces
In between our frailties and everything you are.

You are the keeper of my heart

Truth sings out:
And I'm restless, 
I'm restless, 'til I rest in you 
'til I rest in you 

I'm restless, 
I'm restless, 'til I rest in you 
'til I rest in you, Oh God. 

I want to rest in You

~Audrey Assad


I sat up tall and straight, like I was taught, working to sing along, yet the song would not ring out until I leaned back, resting fully in the One who is my Peace. I did everything I had been trained to do- yet I couldn't support the notes until I truly knew the rest and filling of his Presence.

What is it that connects you to God's presence? What fills you up with  love for him, and grants true rest for you?

For me, it can be quietness and prayer, or pouring out as I walk and run in nature. It can be worshipful music swelling, my arms lifted high in praise, or sweet moments granted in the midst of chaos. Connection can take many forms, but almost always, it requires a purposeful drawing apart. A time to exit the ambient noise of this life and Be Still so I can be filled. 

My heart's cry as I care for my special needs family is that I would focus on relationality- with my husband and children, and my God, too.  "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure." (Psalm 18:32, NIV). He "aims my way" (MSG), brings focus and wellness. Every moment is an opportunity to connect, and when I respond to His invitation, my whole life becomes a prayer:

 I will always be restless, until I rest in You. Be my Lord, order my steps. I commit to rest in God my Rock, for your are my Peace in every moment.

~Just Me

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Knowing Rest

Tonight I need a pouring out, and a flood of pouring in. There have been rains and chaos throughout these past weeks, as hormones rage and a boy is growing into a man.

Daily calls from the school nurse reporting high blood glucose levels and ketones, while I am at doctor appointments or exercising or grocery shopping, or simply trying to catch my breath. My precious son has been at home quite a bit in recent weeks during these learning days... I can count on one hand the number of days he's been well enough to remain at school through every class.

A test tonight revealed high anxiety levels, and the question- "Are you having anxiety attacks?" No, but I am trying to mimic pancreas function in a growing boy and truly, I am clueless as to what to do next. Insulin has been increased, and levels are high one minute and an hour later plumetting. I am confused, and although I focus on tracking and problem solving, it seems trouble shooting has not kept away disquietude. I've walked that path of hushed chaos and I remember truths learned previous seasons. Life can be "a holy mess", yet after another chaotic day, this rings true... the murkier the mish-mash, the more I must cling to the One who embodies Holy-ness. I desperately need Jesus- and while I'd love Jehovah Shalom- the Lord my peace- to smooth out the pandemonium of this life, I know that the God who sees me (El Roi), and knows my every need, will provide (Jehovah Jireh) what I need most- more of the Presence Who fills and sustains.

Speak the name of Jesus, and darkness flees. Cry out for power and wisdom beyond myself, and the Voice that soothes whispers love. Pour out every anxiety upon the altar, and know Peace incarnate, lean into the arms of Love and be held, cradled and comforted.

 I love You, Eternal One, source of my power- Who holds me and shelters me in times of chaos
The Eternal is my rock, my fortress, and my salvation-  My safe-covering, my saving strength        He is my True God, the stronghold in which I hide- My shepherd, He IS my safe place.
   my strong shield, the horn that calls forth help, and my tall-walled tower. My protector, my provision.


I am rescued from the snare of my enemy, from fear and despair, from weakness and uncertainty

  
I call out to the Eternal, who is worthy to be praised—
    that’s how I will be rescued from my enemies.

 The bonds of death encircled me;
    the currents of destruction tugged at me; 
 The sorrows of the grave wrap around me;
    the traps of death lay in wait for me.

I am set free from fear of death and pain, from confusion-- and even the many difficulties of managing unpredictable medical needs-- for I know Who to invite into these chaotic days: 
The Everlasting, The Alpha and Omega, who is my Rock, my stability when the foundations of my world are shaken. 

In my time of need, I called to the Eternal;
    I begged my True God for help.
He heard my voice echo up to His temple,
    and my cry came to His ears.

Psalm 18:1-6

Through raging hormones, unstable blood glucose levels and a teen who's felt ill more days than he's felt well, There is One I can cling to:  (Psalm 18, cont.)
  
16 He reached down His hand from above me; He held me.
    He lifted me from the raging waters.
17 He rescued me from my strongest enemy,
    from all those who sought my death,
    for they were too strong.

18 They came for me in the day of my destruction,
    but the Eternal was the support of my life.
19 He set me down in a safe place;
    He saved me to His delight; He took joy in me.

Tonight I recognize the need to BE Still and Know the presence of the Lover of my Soul, the One who takes great joy in loving me. My All in All, the quencher of my thirst, the Giver of all rest and provision. Anxiety laid down as prayer sloughs away the restless cares of my heart:

31 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.


My man-child said it this week- that the only thing predictable about life is that is it IS unpredictable. I can't count on trends of BG levels and best guesses of insulin needs. I can count on, believe, and rest in my Rock, my fortress, the Most High God who showers me with love and provision in every season; the Lord my Peace, Who IS the gift in the midst of turmoil.

~Just Me

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Healing Truth

I've known this by heart since childhood, words of life and newness: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was (and is) God." I hold another translation, new and fresh, see the words leap from the page into my heart:

 "Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator. His speech shaped the entire cosmos.

Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him. His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light- a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched." (The Voice)

 Meaning flows over me like music. Jesus became the part of God humanity can touch. He reached out and placed hands on the diseased, the helpless, the shunned. He gave new life to the dying, the broken of heart, and still today the Voice shines clear, reaching out to all who choose to draw near. Jesus, meaning "the Lord Saves" those who question, those who don't understand, and especially, those in need of Hope. There is much darkness in this world; there is loss and pain, but there is also Light... a light that thrives in the depths of darkness. A light that brings hope and healing.

 The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. (John 1:14) 


Truths in a jagged life can be hard, leave me gaping. I've been in the place where truths left me empty. Diagnosis can sometimes bring more questions, harder questions. Labels can be terrifying, futures frightening, yet there is one Truth that heals, existing as the God-man who uniquely knows our pain. His Voice was, and is, the complete balance of grace and truth. Intimate anguish mingled with God's heart view, that sees and knows and comforts. The Safe One who allows our questions- welcomes our authenticity, no matter how ragged. The heart that cries out for him will always be held.   


So question. Be real with him, for this One has been real with humanity. Real flesh, real blood, real skin that bled and organs that failed. Real hands that held, and lips that spoke words of life and healing. Real feelings, real emotions, very real grief. He knows every bit of us- intricately.  In the fullness of time-at exactly the right moment- the Light that shines into the deepest, darkest places of the heart came to a flawed and needy humanity. He walked as one of us.  

He knew struggle and sadness, physical and emotional agony. His feet had real scars, his heart knew deep grief. His tears were authentic, borne of profound mourning. He lived in the broken places of this life too, and he knows every pain and trial we face. He knows.

In the questioning, in the place of agonizing authenticity, I find more of Jesus. His life, his perspective, his strength, his divine power moving me forward, leading me into His plans and purposes for me. I speak a healing truth once more: His presence is the gift in suffering. In Immanuel is the light that thrives in the depths of darkness, God with Us, the One Truth who Heals.


~Just Me






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Delivered

Fifteen years ago I was in a hospital room immersed in delivering life into this world. Bearing down for all I was worth until relief flooded my being and the celebration began. I was delivered into Motherhood- not quite ready for all it would bring.

Today I wait in a hospital room. My son's steady breathing whispers next to me, and I breathe relief. The crisis is over, and, stress waning, I rest too, giving thanks for medical miracles bringing life back from the brink. I nod as truth washes over me; God is real in long hours of crisis, and in the quiet that follows. I see his touch in my heart this very day. Fatigue, too, is real, yet it wanes in light of deliverance. The work is not over- for there will be much monitoring  in the days and nights to come. Sleep will be sacrificed for watchfulness, quiet will give way to care-giving.

Despite many needs ahead, despite lack of slumber- now, and in the weeks to come- there is a restfulness found in moments like this. After the fray, after the coming and going of many medical professionals, I find my heart flooded with gratefulness for another day. Time on this earth is fleeting, I know this. I can not know how many moments are still to come, nor can I say what lies ahead, yet my heart's desire is that my moments will be marked by gratitude. Wherever this life takes me, however time plays out, may I continually connect with my Source, the One who bears me through the rough places.

Today I breathe thanksgiving, naming so many gifts, most especially this moment. I take in the softness of a man-child's breath, color back into warm skin, lashes on cheeks, chest rising as he rests and recovers. Today, I celebrate anew the gift of my son, and the restoration of life on the anniversary of his birth. My own plans set aside, I choose to recognize the gift of this day and find my heart is alight with many graces.
  
~Just Me




Saturday, January 4, 2014

Resolution: Restored Relationship

I don't usually make New Years resolutions. Not because I'm afraid I won't accomplish what I set my mind on. It has more to do with my world view, my life view, which has been radically transformed. 

I tend to see the New Year as a re-set button. A time to evaluate lessons learned (usually through mistakes or messes) and a time to forgive myself for every place I fell short.  It's a time to take an honest look at what I can do better- throwing off all guilt- a time to look at where improvement is reasonable within the boundaries of the path marked out for me (in this season). 

It's also a time for me to ask God how He wants to work in and through me in the coming year. A time to make sure my connection to Him is secure after the flurry of the holidays. A time to nestle in and drink deeply of His abundant grace and relentless love. 

In His spirit, built on the foundation of grace and continuity (not merely the momentum of the upswing) I now seek a way to chronicle my journey. A promise for the new year, not just to myself, but grafted within connection to the Lover of my soul.

Christening my commitment seems appropriate, so I share this:  my resolution is relationship- that powerful, two way, life giving force. Divine electricity creating a conduit in and through human flesh- purifying, empowering, transforming. 

I have become convinced that anything not centered in redeemed relationality has missed the mark. The point of the cross was not so we could be religious. Not so we could craft buildings and create traditions. Not even so we could sing songs or gather in a community that believes in a Savior. From the manger to the cross, the purpose has always been restoration of relationship. 

Relationship is the starting place and the finish line. Connectivity within the One who loves us most is the only way to wellness, the only way to healing, the only lasting hope. 

I've known the power of a great sermon, the thrill of a beautiful song, the steadiness of a life of quiet worship- but what has changed my heart, saved me from discouragement, and rescued me from depression is relationship with God Himself. No person and no thing can fill that void. Only God's presence in a life will effect change. 

The lifestyle lived in drawing close moment by moment opens pathways to learning, crossing boundaries, carving changes into my spirit and soul- deeply affecting how I see myself and the world around me. Especially how I view people. We are all sinners saved only by grace. Want to change the world around you? The law won't change people. Telling someone they are a sinner is a moot point. We are each and every one of us flawed and no one needs more voices passing judgement. 

What changes a life is relationship. The right to speak into a life is earned, and always, always, always through a relationship based on grace. It's how God, Himself, began. Relentless grace that confounded the religious community of the day. Hard lessons, yes- but changed hearts are often born in the fire. 


What transformed my understanding of God and brought acceptance of His purpose for my life was when God met me in the midst of unspeakable sorrow. At the end of all I ever hoped for, at the end of myself, here a conduit opened for the Spirit of God to cradle and heal. When God met me in my grief I found only unconditional love and acceptance. He changed everything. He changed me.

Not all at once, but the journey began in His presence and was marked by forgiveness and learning the power boundaries bring. He hems us in for a reason- so we can be healed and set free. Only our untamed God can create something beautiful from our ashes. All I had to do was surrender my ways and nestle into His.

My prayer as I move forward: Change my heart. Continue to root out anything that keeps me from living to the fullest in and through You, Oh Lord, my Hope and Healer. Order my steps, Be my strength, Make me whole.

Joy comes in the morning, yes, but only as I choose intimacy with Him as my foundation.  Relationship with the Living God is everything.  He is my All in All.

~Just Me