Sin and Captivity

I just finished reading Jeremiah and the short book of Lamentations.  As I was reading through Lamentation one verse jumped off the page at me.

“The visions of your prophets
were false and worthless;
they did not expose your sin
to ward off your captivity.”

Lamentations 2:14

Are we allowing God access into our hearts?  Are we surrendering our will?  Are we letting his Holy Spirit deal with the sin in our lives?

If we aren’t, we are living in captivity.

“Lord, we bring you our hearts and our lives.  Please work in us the WILL to obey you.  Help us to lay it all down before your throne.  We know that in surrendering it all to you we gain so much more.  Help us to have the wisdom to cooperate in your sanctifying work in our lives, so that we may live lives of true freedom and abundance.  Amen”

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Labor and Reward

My son, Gabriel, had a tough journey from the start.  My entire pregnancy was very difficult and it culminated in a very dangerous birth.  We barely got to the hospital in time.  I was almost fully dilated and I think the stress of trying to get to the hospital and being jostled around a scrambling to a birthing room, caused an umbilical cord prolapse.  They told me I had to get him out NOW or they were going to have to do an emergency C-section because his oxygen supply was being cut off.

I pushed with everything I had and he came out, blue and not moving.  He was also tiny at 5 pounds, 10 ounces.  The newborns size clothes we had bought were too big!!1930389_117444265073_6519_n

The revived him and he was ok but later struggled with learning to walk and other tasks. He needed a lot of early intervention therapy.  He needed title one support in kindergarten and 1st grade to bring him up to grade level.

Just this past year has been an agonizing ride as we had to go through topical steroid withdrawal.  He missed a ton of school as he the condition was so painful and debilitating.

It’s been a tough, tough journey but we serve a faithful God.  A good God.

Many nights his father and I knelt next to his bed and prayed over him after he fell asleep.  You’ve never met a child more loved and adored by his parents! 397824_10151092514535074_1177420881_n

We’ve always thought he was amazing and smart and gifted, even if those qualities needed a bit of nurturing to emerge fully.

Well…. yesterday I opened a letter from his school inviting him to apply for the Quest program; a program for highly gifted students, because he was showing signs of exceptional giftedness.

I stood in my kitchen as tears filled my eyes.

Proud doesn’t begin to cover it. 

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

Today when you face your struggles, remember that God wants to use them to prepare you for greatness.  He has an end game and it is GOOD.  Pray hard, believe, do your best and you will be rewarded. 

 

 

Struggle Bus 2018

I was reading one of those cheesy diply slideshows this morning and saw this… strugglebusI literally laughed out loud.  “Riding the struggle bus into the New Year” could be the theme of the day.

Last night after putting the kids to bed my husband and I very unwisely watched a show about urban legends and serial killers.  We were spooked.  Plus there was a giant super moon (which yes, I do think adds an extra touch of crazy to the air).  Plus it has been absolutely, ridiculously cold with temps getting to 20 degrees below zero. 

I was drifting off in bed last night when I sat bolt upright in a panic, thinking I’d forgotten my dog outside in the extreme cold.  I raced down the stairs in a panic to find him lounging on the couch.

It took an hour for the adrenaline to wear off so I could fall asleep.  Then the kids kept waking up and everyone had weird dreams.  Not a great night.

It was so hard getting everyone up for the first day back at school after break.  Like, getting dragged behind the struggle bus hard.

I told my husband (a brilliant insight) that we should be more careful about what we put into our minds (especially before bed! especially on a full moon night!!).  He agreed.

It’s just basic, basic stuff.  Don’t put junk into your mind.  Also, don’t live in Minnesota unless you are a certain kind of crazy. MN cold

Tonight we’re going to skip Netflix and do a devotional before bed.

My big (ok, pretty much only) New Years resolution was to get really close to God this year.  I know it’s not going to happen by accident and I am going to be opposed by the enemy.

Anyways I hope all of you had a less eventful return back to normalcy after the Holidays.  I’m just going to close with a couple of verses, which are very applicable to my latest misadventures.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive…. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 1 Cor. 10:23 Philippians 4:8

Rest

I’m sitting here munching away on dark chocolate and it’s not yet 9am.  I just drank two cups of coffee plus a generous amount of cold brew.

Why?  Because I’m exhausted.

My husband has been gone on a business trip all week so I’ve been holding down the fort solo.  Which was going pretty well until last night.  Gabe had too much sugar (can’t blame him, a neighbor very thoughtfully brought over Christmas goodies) and was up just about all night long scratching.

I think he finally fell asleep but at 3 am my daughters bed-wetting alarm went off.  So I’m stumbling around in the dark trying to unhook this contraption from her soggy undies while it’s chirping loudly enough to wake the dead.  Gabe is awakened from his slumber and possibly the neighbors as well!

I finally just had to give him a dose of Benadryl so he could stop itching long enough to get back to sleep

I lay there for an hour afterwards and couldn’t fall back asleep until seemingly right before my alarm went off at 6:30.

So that’s why I’m drowning my tired sorrows in some lindt and starbucks.

I just realized all of this is very ironic because I’ve been meaning to write a follow up blog about rest.  My last blog was all about pushing through.  Grit and determination are important but no less important than finding rest.

In my TSW online support groups there is a lot of talk about PTSD, both for the kids who go through this nightmare and the parents who very much suffer along with their children.  I think we’ve been able to avoid it because we have really done everything we can to be there for Gabe, emotionally and physically.  If he was happy, we were happy.  When he cried, many times I held him and secretly cried too.  I’m a big believer in processing your emotions at the time.  Shoving them down leads to so many problems later.

But one lingering fear that still very much affects him is that he is afraid to sit and relax.  See, for months he would get brief energy bursts (where he could walk and function) and we’d be able to get out for an hour or two before he’d “crash” and it’d be back to sitting in the recliner for the rest of the day.  Because his adrenal glands were so shot from the long term steroid usage; sitting down would often mean he just couldn’t get back up again.  Which is terrible for anyone, but much more so when your a formerly very active 8 year old boy.

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He spent many hours here

Now he’s made tons of progress.  His skin looks so much better and he has loads more energy.  He can usually “go” from 9 am to 9 pm now.  A huge improvement where even an hour of being able to get up and walk around was a happy occasion.

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So he’s come so far but I think the fear of “crashing” is always with him and he is afraid to sit down.  Afraid that his energy will desert him if he takes a moment to rest.

I noticed this about a month ago.  I initially thought he always stood because maybe the dryness in his legs made it uncomfortable to bend into a sitting position.  But then I realized that wasn’t it.  He was afraid.  He would push himself all day and not sit at all except when in the car or on the bus.  It just couldn’t be good for him, especially since he is still recovering.

So in the evenings I started forcing him to come and sit with me.  He would resist it at first but pretty quickly he would curl his body close against mine and I would feel his tension melting away.  A deep sigh and a sense of peace would come over him.  What he was resisting was what he most needed.  He fought so hard all day to overcome but he also needed to embrace times of rest after all that valiant effort.

I think that’s all of us.

We think rest is zoning out or maybe shopping or eating or whatever.  And those things can be good and much needed but we need a deeper rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29

When we’re stressed, hurting, tired…. we don’t need to numb ourselves we need to seek this genuine rest.  I know it’s something I need, every day.  Not to check my Facebook for the 56th time.  Not to overdo it on the wine.  But to find this place of true rest that will restore my soul.

We need this time of rest built in to our lives because we live in a pretty harsh world.  Our default mode is to seek bandaids and self-medicate when we really need to get our bruised souls in the healing presence of God.

This is really a challenge to me but hopefully an encouragement to others to seek His rest throughout the day.  He isn’t going to force us (he isn’t a pushy, bossy mom like me) to lay down next to those still waters, but the invitation is there. 790ff8ab4f67275d6ed6d2cd987f1335

“Lord, you know our burdens and our heavy cares.  Heavenly father we pray that we would surrender and relax into your rest.  Help us to have a childlike faith and open our eyes to the wonder of your intimate care for us.  Thank you for loving us so, even when we resist and struggle against what we need the most. Amen”

Pushing Through

Right now my hands and forearms are fried into oblivion.  I shelled out $20 (so well spent) for a month of unlimited Cathe Friedrich workouts.  Having access to the entire collection is like being a kid in a candy store for this workout junkie.  I’ve been doing new workouts every day and my body is currently begging for mercy.

I just love a tough challenge and I love feeling like I’ve done my best.  I even like having sore muscles.

But at 31 there’s more aches and pains than I used to have and I had to go the chiropractor last month when my neck felt out of whack and all my stretching couldn’t fix it.  I found a new chiro and was hoping to get in and out of there asap but he insisted on doing X-rays.

Well, turns out, I have curves in all the wrong places.  My back has twists and turns like a nightmarish rollercoaster.  My neck isn’t much better.

Well, that would explain the back pain that I’ve had for years.  I often have to pause a workout and stretch my back or pop it back into place.  It just is what it is.  I don’t know if it was the stress of gymnastics as a kid, malnutrition as an eating-disordered teen, bad posture or a combo of all three but my back is whack (please forgive the awful pun!).

But I won’t give up on doing what I love and I won’t let it limit me.  I’m going to keep pushing through like I always have.

I’ve run into a lot of obstacles but I haven’t given up.  I figured out a diet that worked.  I found supplements to help with my auto-immune issues.  I found a foam roller to help with my back pain.

I wonder sometimes if that grit and determination is why God has allowed me to face the extreme challenges I have in my son’s health issues.  There’s been a lot of times that it felt hopeless but I wasn’t about to give up.  Ever.

“A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” Mark 5:24-26

This is my son’s story too. 25354063_10159835464640074_9156951997104848909_n He saw many doctors and the medicine just made him worse.  We were at wits end and we brought him up to the altar to be prayed over.  The next week God revealed to us that the steroid creams were the cause of his deteriorating condition.  We didn’t get the instant healing we were hoping for but we set off on a healing journey.

I think in life we all run up against obstacles that would try to beat us into submission.  Giants that screams at us to give up.  Times we seek healing in every natural avenue we can and get worse.  Those times we need to push through.  Like that woman who pushed through not just the crowd but what must have been a crippling social stigma as an unclean person for so long; to get through to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:21 

I want to encourage you to keep seeking, keep pushing because you have a God in Heaven that loves you.

We can push through hard times because our God is for us.

This Christmas season I hope you take some quiet moments to ponder at the wonder that the God of the Universe came to earth as a baby in the most humble way possible.  He did it for me, he did it for you. untousachildisborn6.jpg

 

Thoughts on Kindness

I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking of an encounter I had a few months ago.  I had taken my dog to the dog park and there was no one else there but an older lady and her Korean rescue dog.

So our dogs ended up playing together and she opened up to me about why she had gotten the dog.  The night of the presidential election she had been very, very upset about the results.  Out of her grief she had decided to get this amazing little rescue dog who likely would’ve ended up on someone’s menu in Korea.

Now, I’m 100% conservative and was pretty thrilled the night of the election.  No, I’m not in love with Trump but I’m hopeful that he can turn some things around in our country. But I’m a human being first and I just listened empathetically to this woman.  We had a really great talk and that wouldn’t have happened if I had labeled her because she had different political opinions.

People are people and we all need Jesus.  Yes, politics matter.  Knowing what you believe matters.  But our eternal destination matters so much more.  Jesus’ love is not constrained like ours, he doesn’t take sides.

“Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13

 

Face like Flint

I just got kicked out of an eczema support group on Facebook.

I was acting as sort of an awareness raising vigilante for the dangers and prevalence of topical steroid addiction amongst those who suffer with eczema.

Like, “LOOK!  Guys I have the answer.  You can get completely better!!  Your steroids have been causing your worsening condition all along.  Now you just need to go through this hellish withdrawal!!”

Obviously I wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.  The people who administrate the group are familiar with TSW and for whatever reason, have decided against it.  Not only that, but because of the suffering associated with it, they label it as “dangerous” and “misguided” and the people, like myself, who try to sound the alarm, are promptly booted from the group.

My reasons for wanting to warn people is simply that I wish someone had warned us before our level of dependence on steroids got as bad as it did.  We could have avoided so much pain and suffering for our son.

But the road is a hard one, no doubt.  And many try for a time, before going back to steroids and concluding that TSW doesn’t work.

I’ve gotten some unexpected feedback sharing my blog within my TSW support group.  People commending my husband and I for doing a good job.  It is great, in a sense, mostly because it’s vindication.  When we entered into this, it was going against medical advice.  It was going it alone.  It was entering into some pretty bleak and abject suffering.  We felt very defensive about our decision because while we knew we were doing the right thing, we felt a lot of heat over it.

But at this point it is finally paying off.  My son is getting better.  There is a spark of vitality and health that strengthens every single day.

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He was thrilled to get a McChicken before school~

In our case we found the answer to our prayers, to our searching, but it meant pressing through a whole lot of pain and difficulty.  “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51  Another version says, “He set his face like flint.”  Jesus knew full well what he was getting into and he pressed into it.  He was resolute.  Because he knew the joy set before him.  He knew the end game.

 

My husband and I never wavered, not once.  We knew that God had led us to this point.  We knew Gabe had to go through this withdrawal.  We were of one mind, and there is so much power in that.  Gabe, young as he is, he understood and was 100% on board too.

We’ve gone through a pretty extreme trial, but, we all go through stuff.  We all deal with pain.  That’s why we need hope.  We need to know the end game.  We need to know our Shepherd.

Often, the only way out is through.  We have to be resolute.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2-3

I know there are those who don’t get their healing.  At least, not here on this earth.  But we know the end game.  We know in whom we have believed.  We know this life isn’t the “be all, end all”.  It’s like a cosmic waiting room we bide our time in until we can get to the real deal.  And hardships help to wake us up to the eternal consequences and weightiness of how we live our lives here while we wait for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19