Saturday, December 14, 2013

Feeling Shattered

Yesterday afternoon and last night I felt shattered. You see, I knew I had felt like I was going slowly, steadily downhill the last 3 or 4 weeks. I knew I was getting more tired again and weaker, stressed easily, more teary. However, what I didn't expect was to go in yesterday and hear, "You're testing for a Lyme related bacteria again." At that moment, my hope and world shattered. 

It shattered for my children. It shattered for my husband. It shattered for me. 

In the Lyme world, this is not abnormal. Lyme is a nasty bacteria, that releases other bacteria into the body. All of this bacteria goes into the blood stream, the brain, organs, and eventually (after a just a few weeks) buries itself, hidden, in the blood cells. Antibiotics cannot reach the bacteria in the blood cells, so no one is ever truly healed of the Lyme. (If it's not caught in the first few weeks.) It's always there, and many people suffer forever, or it pops up at stressful times of life. The method of treatment we have chosen has been shown to do that...actually kill the Lyme for good, even in the blood cells. 

So, when it showed up yesterday after a year, everything just crashed for me. God has been so amazingly wonderful to me, filled me with His grace, given me more patience, contentment, peace, hope, and abundance than I could have ever imagined. But, let's face it. I want out of this prison. I want to be well. I want to be well for my family. So much my heart wants to explode for them at times.

Physically, it wasn't the best for me (even in the wheelchair), but emotionally, I had already needed to get out and had already been thinking of going to the mall after my appointment, so we did. And, physically, it has had it's consequences, but emotionally, it was wonderful to be out in the stores. I was able to forget about Lyme Disease for a short time and enjoy the shoppers and Christmas music, and just seeing people. 

And, then it was quiet. And, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I felt like I was starting over. I felt like the things I had so desperately hoped and prayed for for 2014 were lost. Things that I have a whole lot of emotion riding on. I felt like this will never end. 

And my husband held me and let me sob. Then he told me how he had been back on the computer while I was getting ready for bed, and reading report after report that this treatment got rid of chronic Lyme in people. That they had gone for several years, still with no signs of the Lyme returning. We talked again, and I tried to soak it in, how this may not be Lyme returning at all, but that, even though it has been a year since I tested Lyme free, it may very well be one of the other bacteria that has been lurking and waiting. That this could actually be a good thing. That God has brought this bacteria now to the surface for it to be killed, too. 

I went to bed, thinking, but not convinced of that. Still raw. Still devastated, but with a sliver of hope. 

Then. I thanked God. He reminded me. I don't feel one bit thankful for this sickness, but I remembered that I can BE thankful. I can be thankful that we found it quickly, as James reminded me. Thankful that it hasn't had time to do any real damage. And, that's how I went to sleep. With some peace as I chose to thank God for those 2 things. 

Today, I hold on to all of these things. Thankful (and actually feeling it a little) for finding it early. Hopeful that this treatment is where God led me and has the history of eradicating the bacteria completely. Thankful that I have a God, Healer, Savior who knows my heart's cry and listens, and who gives me strength to keep waiting and trusting.

I don't feel strong this morning, but I don't feel shattered, either. I feel Him putting the pieces back together. I know He will return my joy as I put my hope in Him, not in tests and treatments. 

Last Saturday night...a week ago today...I was getting ready for bed (for bedtime is always when the emotions get so strong, right?), and I was crying out to the Lord, asking Him to show me something. It has been almost a year since I heard Him say anything specific to me about my healing, and though I still cling to those words, the weariness I felt these last 3 or 4 weeks had me needing to hear from Him. Honestly, I don't know if I expected it. Sunday morning, James came in from church to find me lying on the couch, where I had been all morning, too weak and tired to listen to and comprehend a sermon; discouraged. He, not knowing about my prayers the previous night, told me that Jerry, a sweet older man in the church, had come up to him before the service. He told James, "I'm praying for your wife. You know I've told you that before; that I pray for her." He went on to say that he had been praying for me that morning, getting ready for church, and that he "had a word from the Lord. She is going to be healed, and it's not going to be long. I don't know a time, but it's not long."

I have nothing to believe but that God answered my cry, and sent His word to me through what seems an unlikely place. It was not anything that *I* heard through prayer or the Word, so that I could worry that I had just heard what I wanted. (God knows our minds!!) It was through soft spoken, humble, elderly man whom I know only a little. I don't believe the timing was a coincidence either, so as I felt shattered last night, as I'm being put back together today, I hold on to what God has spoken, and trust that He is going to heal just as He has spoken. 

Please pray for me. Pray for my family. Put us on your church or Bible study prayer lists. The enemy has been coming on strong for most of this year, but through our prayer, he will...already is....defeated.  My heart aches for all that I have hoped for this next year, but He is good, and my aching heart trusts in that alone.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Duck Dynasty: Are They Christians?

This is not particularly a post I want to write, because I know #1...somebody will get mad  #2...most people will accuse me, defend their position, or not care or ask God. But... it keeps nagging me. For weeks. And, when something keeps nagging me, God won't let go of it until I say it. 

Deep breath. 

I will say up front, I have only tolerated through the show 2 or 3 times. The last time I got up and left after 15 min. because I couldn't stand it any longer. But, a whole lot can be gleaned in just a few shows, because, after all, it's the same thing over and over.

....And, when millions of people flock (excuse the unintended pun) to something and go on and on about it, and lift it up on this pedestal, that alone causes red flags to go off in my mind. But, after seeing many, many, many, many, many Christians go on and on about it, I gave it a chance. It failed on many fronts...aside from stupidity.

So..... why I believe Duck Dynasty and the Robertson Family may not be Christians and why the Christian community should not be jumping in hook, line, and sinker to support them. Keep reading, because it might surprise you~ 

1. Have you actually watched the show? I mean, really. They act rude, crude, sarcastic, mean spirited at times, selfish, extremely immature..... Where are those listed in the Bible as Godly traits? I missed that part. Where exactly are those family values everyone raves about?
I completely have a ridiculous sense of humor, so that's not the problem.

2. "But, they pray and eat together, and it's wholesome (see number 1) entertainment." I just read an article this afternoon in which Willie is quoted as having to remind his father that this is not "the '700 Club'." They do not consider this to be a Christian or family show, and he goes on to say that if somebody likes the fact that they eat together and laugh and have fun, that's just fine, but that's not what it's about; "it's a comedy" show. The "Christian" part is not what they intend it to be about. 

The same article, along with another, went on to say that it's about comedy and making money. The older Robertson might be trying to say Jesus' name, but he's the only one, and that's not what they intend with the show. I have seen nothing about this show remotely Christian. (Holy, set apart, Christ like....)

3. The really hard part. I cannot judge the hearts of this family. That is something only God can do. However, I can look at what they teach and at the church they attend and make a judgement about what that "denomination" proclaims. I put the word denomination in quotes, because even they do not call themselves a denomination. Even though most Christians accept them as a denomination and as Christians, they pronounce that THEY are THE Lord's Church. Not the rest of us. Most of them do not believe the rest of us can be saved outside of their church.

This "church", as a whole, says the name Jesus, but they do not believe that Jesus' work on the cross alone and our entrusting our lives to that is enough. *The Robertson Family also preaches this.* They believe that you not only have to be baptized in order to be saved, but many of the congregations believe you must be baptized in THEIR church building by their preacher to be saved. 


This "church" also believes that you have to keep up with certain legalistic rules in order to keep your salvation. 


After studying this religion in depth, you will find there are so many twisted and abused scriptures it is frightening, yet Christians don't know better and jump in saying that this is a wholesome, Christian show and family. I believe we are held accountable for those words.

I posted a photo last week of a bird and its reflection in the water. Only it was not the bird's reflection, but a photo-shopped reflection. It just took a little inspection to see it was fake. I made the comment then that we are guilty of "liking" things so quickly because they look beautiful on the outside, but on closer inspection, we can see they are counterfeit. The religion that this family is part of is the same. 

Many of those who have studied these things report that this "church" meets at least 4 out of the 5 criteria of a cult. Some believe it meets all 5. Some, stop short of saying it is a cult, but warn that it is a "false gospel that cannot save", and the Christian Apologetic site warns that Christians should stay away from this "church". This is a serious deal. And, Christians are unaware and supporting this. But, don't just take my word for it. Research it. Dig into their beliefs and dig into the Word of God. I cannot tell you 100% that this family is not saved..only God knows that. But, these are the unscriptural beliefs this family is aligning itself with and preach.

If you want to watch stupid shows on t.v., go ahead. I watch a couple that others would find stupid. But, we need to be very careful publicly proclaiming something of God without the careful inspection and knowing that what we are saying is truth. 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matt. 7:21

And, what is the ultimate first will of the Father? Salvation. But, salvation cannot occur through a false gospel, and truly loving God and others cannot occur without salvation. Just because someone says the name of the Lord, does not mean they are a true follower of Christ. There are many false teachers and counterfeits whom Satan loves to use to lure us into a false belief of salvation. Know the Word. Know what you are supporting.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Comparisons...Whose Standard?

 *Even though this was written to and about homeschool moms, it is an applicable principle to everyone. I wrote this yesterday in response to a growing burden I had watching homeschool moms ask questions and leave comments on a facebook page this past week.*
"When they... compare themselves with one another they are without understanding and behave unwisely," 2 Corinthians 10:12

They had set themselves as a standard and were comparing themselves to each other instead of looking to God.

I have been homeschooling for 19 years, and I have been guilty of falling into this trap in the past. And, I see SO many homeschool moms who not only fall into it, but live in it. It is probably especially true of new homeschoolers. We feel like we need a standard...a safety net. We need rules, we need the "right" curriculum, and we compare. Oh! do we compare!! We will either use the public school system that most of us grew up in, or we use other homeschool families. And, when those families are outspoken (and especially if they seem to be doing and accomplishing so much more than we are), either they set themselves up as a standard, or we, in our insecurity, set them up as a standard. But, God needs to be our standard!! It is okay to look to other moms for advice, to glean ideas, to get encouragement, but never judge how you should teach and parent your children off of what that perfect looking family or curriculum says. Go to God! He knows your children. He knows their needs. There's a good chance He is expressing himself through them...we just don't always listen. If HE says there needs to be a change (and that voice will not be condemning!), then listen. Seek out other moms who are on the path that you feel God calling your family. Ask for their input, but continue to let your Father be your standard and guide. Tune the other voices out.

If after reading a post here or any blog, magazine, etc., you feel like a failure, you feel like you're failing your children, or you feel panicked to change things, go to the Father. It's probably comparison or the enemy seeking to steal your peace and destroy the good you are doing. Ask God if there needs to be a change. He will give you peace that passes understanding in His calling for your life.

New or struggling homeschool moms (and those with kids transitioning into high school), you are their mom for a reason. God called you to teach them at home for a reason. Trust your mom instincts given to you by God. Ask Him to show you and teach you. To lead you to the right path for your children. Do not panic over how the school or anyone else is doing it. Children learn in so many different ways. Learn how your children learn and do not be afraid to go that direction, even if you believe you are the only one. I can promise you that you aren't.

I do believe there are some rights and wrongs in teaching. There are some standards for every family that I believe come from God. Relationships should come before academics. God's calling on your child's life should come before academics (especially those that are just for the sake of academics.) Rest for the body and the mind are God's standard. Letting children be free to be children, not perfect little angels, who sit perfectly still, working for hours on something they hate or is of no significant value to God's plan for them. If we are frustrated, burned out, the children are frustrated and burned out, there is a standard...and we're following the wrong one. We always hear moms say that they just need to persevere and endure, when, in fact, God may be saying, "Come to Me. Rest. My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations
And set up My standard to the peoples;
And they will bring your sons in their bosom,
And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders."

God has set a standard...a place for us to come to, look to, return to, in every part of our life. We look to Him and His word to find that standard for our family's life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ashley's May Ministry Update

Hello from Alaska!
I'm sitting here in the Dining Hall at camp, listening to various conversations among the staff around me, eating trail mix, and looking out the window at a spectacular sunset sky over the mountains and Berner's Bay. I feel like it's been years since I last emailed you guys! It has been a few weeks, and a lot of life has happened since then.
Again, I will list specific prayer requests at the bottom of this email.

Retreat Season
Spring retreat season was great! We hosted six groups ranging in size from 10 people to over 100. For these retreats, we cooked and served meals, ran the zip line and outdoor laser tag, led team-building activities, cleaned the facilities, etc. It was great to be able to interact with these diverse groups. Only one of them was actually a religious group (a Christian school), so we had a lot of opportunity to interact with people who don't know the Lord. We met some neat people and had some good conversations. Please pray that the seeds that were planted continue to be watered!

Counselors are here!
Our team of summer counselors arrived this past Wednesday, and it's so exciting to have them here. They have brought such a fresh energy and excitement to camp! We are in the midst of Counselor Orientation right now. This summer staff is made up of college-age young adults from all over the United States (and one from Canada) who have committed their whole summer – and paid $400 – to serve here at Echo Ranch. It has been so good to get to know them over the past few days, hear their stories of how God brought them here, and see their excitement for being here and serving. I'm so thankful for each one of them and their sacrifice and dedication to follow God to Alaska! Yesterday we spent several hours doing team-building activities, and I was so blessed to see them already working so well together as a team, and the support and encouragement they gave each other during the challenges. It's going to be a good summer, I think! :-) Please keep these young adults in your prayers – I'll list a few specific names/requests below.

A little about life here...
Life here at Echo Ranch is definitely different! One key aspect is how heavily everything depends on the tide. Since the road ends 2 miles from camp and we have to drive or walk on the beach to get into camp, travel in and out is limited to certain times of day when the tide is out. If someone needs to go in or out while the tide is high, we have to take a boat!
All of our electricity runs off a generator. Because of limited water resources, those of us who live in the counselor dorm can only shower every-other-day, and are not allowed to shower one hour before or after meals (the dorm shares a building with the kitchen). The internet is very limited, so we're not allowed to use anything but email.
Of course, even with these small annoyances, this is a beautiful place that I get to live in for these few months. The bay and the mountains are breathtaking. The sun sets at 9:30 pm and rises around 4:00 am right now. Occasionally we see whales, seals, and eagles in the wild – literally right in our front yard. Life in Alaska is different from the Lower 48, and I'm so glad to get to experience it.

Finding my place
For the first couple of weeks I was at camp, I felt a little overwhelmed and unsure of my role. I feel now like I'm really finding where I fit in the staff and what my place and responsibilities are. The rest of the program team arrived recently, so we now have a team of 6 of us who are in charge of the camp program – activities, spiritual emphasis, schedules, etc. I'm so blessed already by being a part of this group. We meet together every morning for devotions, prayer, and discussing the day ahead, and are really forming a good connection together. It's an encouraging way to start each day.
Also, now that the counselors are here, I'm really getting to dive into my role as Counselor Adviser (CA). As a CA, I live in the dorm with the girl counselors, and serve as their leader/mentor/friend/counselor/go-to person. For the counselors, their mission field is the campers who will come, but as CA's, our mission field is the counselors – to support, encourage, lead, and motivate them throughout the summer. This is a role that I take very seriously. I really want to serve these young women well.

Prayer Requests
  • Watering and growing of seeds that were planted during spring retreat season
  • Counselors and Staff who have left home, family, and jobs to serve here this summer
  • Continuing growth of team unity
  • Health and safety, especially as camp and activities start
  • Beth – a counselor who is struggling with some health problems and will probably be going home next week. She was excited to be here and is very discouraged about having to leave.
  • Chelsea – a counselor for whom I am praying specifically to see God increase her confidence in herself and her calling.
  • Kevin – a counselor whose spiritual maturity we are a little concerned about.
  • The first week of summer camp, starting a week from today! (Monday, June 3) This will be a Middle School camp. Pray for our preparations and for the campers who are coming. 
Thank you so much for all your support, and for the emails and the letters/cards you have sent!  Again, if you want to send any regular mail, the address is Echo Ranch Bible Camp, c/o Ashley Smylie, PO Box 210608, Auke Bay, AK 99821.  God bless you. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Health Update~ When Not So Good News is Good News

Every week I go to Knoxville for an appointment on the Ondamed, which is the treatment that got rid of the Lyme. We continue to use it to treat the damage the Lyme did. In addition, every 3-4 weeks I had appointments to check my supplements. The last couple of months, the supplements started changing so much so often, that I've increased those appointments to every other week (same trip as the Ondamed appointment). Some of the changes in supplements have been decreases; some have been increases. Pretty much, the only change I've felt has been to feel worse. However, I know from everything we have read about Lyme Disease that that actually means progress is being made, even though I don't feel it. It gets hard sometimes to remember that and to keep my focus off increasing symptoms, but the Lord keeps me hanging on, reminding me, and reminding me of the restoration He has promised.

This past week's seemingly "not so good news" was that another bacterial infection has shown up. I have honestly been very surprised that I have only had the one very stubborn Staph infection, which I had for 15 months. Antibiotics didn't kill it, then when I started treatments at this new place, it took about 7 months of treatment to knock it out. The reason I am surprised is that Lyme always comes with co bacterial infections~usually 2 or more. The good news is that she doesn't believe this is a new infection, but one that has been there finally showing up. The way this treatment works is like pulling things off in layers...peeling an onion. As the body deals with one thing and starts healing, the next layer can show itself. She said she has been waiting and waiting on this to come out, because she knew it had to be there. So, yes, it showing up is a good thing and can now be treated. It also means that progress is being made against this disease, even when it doesn't feel that way. This was really an answer to my prayers the last few weeks, because I have felt at a stuck place. Like we are just treating the same things over and over, week after week, with no progress, even though I know it takes time....healing from Lyme takes LOTS of time, unless you catch it early. The Lord knew I needed to see things take a step, and He has been faithfully healing on the inside. 

The only known visable effect the new bacterial infection is having is discomfort/pain in my left shoulder and shoulder blade area. However, I have also been much more tired and more out of commission the last few weeks, and I don't know if that is playing a part in it. I have just assumed it was from way over doing it since the beginning of April.

April and May were incredibly hard, but God kept me going to do what I needed, and a little of what I wanted, to do. It started April 7th, taking Ashley to Kentucky to start her journey to Alaska. We spent one night in KY, and traveled the next day to Nashville for James to help work on Troy's and Briana's new house. That day traveling was exhausting, and I got a severe neck ache, which I guess caused one of the most horrid headaches I have ever had, although even after my neck felt better the headache was relentless for days. (Lyme can cause migraines, but I had only had such a severe headache once back in Oct.) I spent most of the several days in the hotel resting, but still needed to be up and dressed, going out most every day, and that is extremely draining. The week after we got home, was Daniella's birthday, and we celebrated with family with an afternoon out. The next week, James and I were back to Nashville for him to help work and move them. I over did it, and this trip was even more difficult physically. (I WANTED to be there, though!) We returned with about a week and a half until Marissa's birthday, followed the next week by her slumber party. That is why I assume I have felt even more fatigued! (Ya think?!) I just haven't been able to recuperate from those weeks, and I am sure the bacterial infection is making it harder.

One other issue that I have dealt with in the last few weeks is what we think was a detox. Just before that second trip to Nashville, she discovered that my kidneys were not detoxing. When you start treating Lyme, it reacts by releasing tons of toxins and bacteria into the blood stream and cells. It overloads the system and massive detoxing is necessary. The body can't always keep up, but also my kidneys weren't working the way they should. She put me on a new supplement for that. I didn't know what was coming! I went through a horrid week or 2, where I told them that I felt like something had invaded my body. It was a scary feeling. The Lord held onto me without too much collateral damage, and a week or so after this was over, I read this~

"Herxheimer reaction ("Herx"): definition should be "torture." Can be used as a noun or verb as in "I herxed so bad I felt like I was run over by a truck and then dragged by a pack of wolves through hot dry sand." Scientifically speaking, a herxheimer reaction is what occurs during the treatment of Lyme disease and its co-infections. The common misconception is that when a patient is treated with meds, it should be all uphill from there. Medication should make you feel better, right? Very wrong. When spirochetal bacteria (like Lyme) is killed off, it releases a massive load of toxins in the body. These toxins are "neurotoxins" and "endotoxins", which putting it simply means that it is a toxin to the brain and the patients' organs. Typically the death of these bacteria and the associated release of endotoxins occurs faster than the body can remove the toxins via the natural detoxification process (hence the need for tons of detox supplements, herbs, and strict diet). Herxing can cause a whole host of symptoms, ranging from seizures, migraines, excruciating pain, dizziness, relentless hours of crying, anxiety, heart rate issues, pain, inability to breathe, insomnia, episodes of rage, confusion, memory loss, and much, much more. This, therefore makes Lyme treatment grueling, and very similar to cancer treatment with chemotherapy."

I, very thankfully, did not have all of these symptoms listed, nor were some of the ones I had as severe as they indicated, but they were bad enough. Some were very bad. I am so thankful that is over, at least for now, and prayerfully, for good!

Aside from the increased fatigue, the only other increased symptoms I can think of at the moment are joint and muscle aches (not daily, but lots of days), my trouble with comprehension and processing has gotten worse again, some increased digestive issues again, the insomnia and dreaming has increased again, and my body's ability to handle stress. (stress? who has stress?!)

And, of course, there are times that it is extremely difficult emotionally. Not daily...or sometimes daily for just a short while. This past week, my practitioner said something that stood out to me. She said that when she had been sick with MS, and as with many other sicknesses, she was very sick, but "functionally sick". She said that I am "non-functionally sick". Not a news flash. I kind of knew that, but I think to hear her say it jolted me a little. It's not just me. I really am. However, God is gracious, and He's helped me, and He's going to continue to help me, and we believe, heal me. 

The 3rd week of June will mark 2 years since I first started feeling worse again...sick and fatigued, resting some, but having to push myself to go places. The last week of July will mark 2 years since my body quit. I'm about to take a risk here, and tell you something. The Lord spoke to me recently, through scripture (Elijah) and His voice, about 2 years of rest and good food. I don't know what He has planned. I don't hold Him to anything my heart might wish. June or July will be two years of rest. Two years of good food...not so much until next Feb. I also don't hold God to any time table. But, He did speak the 2 years to me. He says to ask Him, so I'm asking Him, and asking those who would to join me, for me to have a significant amount, if not total healing, by the end of June or July. Is that risky? Yes. But, that is what faith is. If that is not what He had in mind, I will be disappointed, but all will be okay. He will have a bigger blessing in store. Thank you to those who will join me in this prayer, and if you feel comfortable letting me know, please do, as it is great encouragement. Any "like" or comment in this battle is great encouragement.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

God Remembers

Recently, I was reading about the account of Noah, and these words leaped off the page at me: "But God remembered Noah". Now we all know that God had not actually *forgotten* Noah. But, think about it. The verse before says, "The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days." Imagine. Being closed up on this ark with just your immediate family and a gazillion animals, and it rains and rains and rains, and you know from what God has said that everyone and everything outside that ark has been destroyed. Nothing is left but your little group. You are floating in a vast unknown, nothing in sight, day after day after day, tossed around by waves that I am sure were there. I don't know about you and Noah, but I'm pretty certain I would wonder if God remembered me!

And, don't we sometimes. We all have our "floods" whether they are sickness, like mine currently is, financial crisis, marriage crisis, child crisis..... we look around us and we see nothing but a flood. We see waves, we may feel tossed, we may feel alone in a great, vast ocean. But, this we can remember~ God has not forgotten us! He is there with us to give us His peace so that we know He is walking with us through the flood. 

The commentary here says that "to 'remember' in the Bible is not merely to recall to mind; it is to express concern for someone, to act with loving care for him. When God remembers His people, He does so 'with favor'." We go through trials that cause us to wonder if God is still there. We don't feel Him with us for times, and He stays silent for what seems like a long time. But, then, God remembers us. He expresses His concern and He acts with loving care. He is a good God, teaching us about Himself and growing us in the silence, then remembering us with His favor. 

This morning, as I was thinking about writing this blog post, this just happened to be the devotion I read from Jesus Calling~

"My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face-to-Face with Me; your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, "Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up.

   The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me; the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today's waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to Me."

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." Isaiah 43:2 

God has not forgotten.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Giving Thanks

I get up another morning facing another day of sitting at home. Fighting discouragement for a short while as everyone gets ready to go to church to hear Ashley speak. It tries to creep in that I sit at home while everyone goes to do everything. Satan wants me to feel left out, discouraged. He does that to me ever so often. Luring me to feel down, sorry for myself, which leads to doubting and to focus on all I can't do, focus on self, all I'm missing, all I long to do. I have been teetering here for a few days.

Last Wed. I made the choice to go to Lowe's to look at cabinets and floors to replace where we had the flood in Nov. The concrete and 1/2 old vinyl tile~1/2 wood floor really doesn't bother me too much, but I was having a few "good" days, so I thought I'd tackle it. It tacked me. Thursday was a completely horrid day. Horrid. Worse than a very long time. Not just physically....and it was indeed horrid physically...but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of the day, I collapsed in the floor, sobbing, and said, "I just want to live through this." Right that second, I wasn't sure if I could. No strength to go on; to fight. 

But God in His goodness whispers to me.
He holds me. He reminds me. He provides for me. He encourages me. He is my strength. If I am focused on Him, not myself; His promises and His character, not how things look; then I have every reason to be thankful, to praise Him. If I look to myself or to anything else, it is hopeless, and at that point, I probably can't live through it! But, I serve a God who shows me the good, who gives me glimpses of Himself and what He is doing, who whispers to me in the dark places just how much He loves me, who died for me! That alone makes Him worthy of my praise no matter how dark the battle may seem. 

But, guess what! Just because the battle is dark, doesn't mean I have to live in the dark.  "My eyes are continually toward the Lord, For He will pluck my feet out of the net." (Psalm 25:15) and He promises that His grace is sufficient for me...and you! He is fighting for us!

As I focus on Him, this stops being a season of asking or wondering why. It becomes a season of asking Him to show me Himself. To show me "great and mighty things which I do not know." Does that make every day easy? No. And, some days are down right hard. But, it makes every day worth living for, every day worthy of praising Him, every day worthy of giving thanks, because when I focus on knowing Him, everything else dims. My losses, my needs, my desires are in His hands...trustworthy, capable, loving hands. And, guess what! I am inscirbed there. (Isaiah 49:16)

A trial is called a trial because it's HARD. I know there will be more. More to test and strengthen my faith, but I can face them knowing that He is all powerful, He loves me, He works for my good, and He will not leave me. There is much to praise and thank Him for even at our lowest points. Even when we don't know how we will live through it. 

This morning I posted an article on my facebook page about suffering, and this is a quote from it~
"Suffering often gives us the drive we need to press into God to help us get through the ordeal. It causes us to press into Him and in the process we can soar with Him above the storms of life. Instead of being upset or angry at God, ask Him what He’s trying to teach you or work out of you."
In His kindness, the Lord gave me a glimpse last week of how he has wiped our slate clean in many places and that He is going to build something new. He even gave us an almost hint at what it pertains to. :) Almost. Just a wee bit. That really was kind. It was encouragement, it was hope, it was confirmation (and MORE!) of what we have believed and hoped for all along. We have no clue really what it will be, what it will take to get there, and how far away that is, but it is another thing to thank and praise Him for. 
 Quite honestly, my flesh and my emotions are tired of this battle. If I begin to wonder how much longer it will go on, I become defeated. I can't fathom another year of this. But, God in His mercy will carry me through as I praise Him for all He is and all He does, and as my focus stays on being conformed to His image instead of my own matter how long it takes.
What else can I praise and thank Him for?
~most Lyme sufferers have much pain. I've had only a little at times
~now being Lyme free and the hope of complete healing
~God set into motion long before for James to be at home working and he can take care of me and the girls.
~James...working to do it all for us, and doing so alone. His unending support and encouragement.
~Ashley, who has been home part of this time and been able to give James some breaks in cooking at times. Who has been here to be a friend, to talk about nothing, to share her heart, and to just hang out with sometimes. Who has taken her sisters clothes shopping every season (except she couldn't rescue James from swimsuit shopping! ;) )
~Briana, who lets me text her and say, "I'm getting in the shower", and who replies, "I'm praying!!", because she knows how exhausted it can make me. She texts and we chat and she keeps me company and cheers me.  Who (along with her sweet husband) comes to visit me and give me extra hugs. Oh, let's not forget, who lets me email and text pictures of kitchen cabinets and floors, and whine, "I don't know!!!", then gives me her feedback. 
~Marissa and Daniella~ hugs, smiles, laughs, bringing me things when I can't get up to get them or just to help me conserve energy, helping with housework, playing games with me, chatting, joy!     
~a God-given, God-favored trip to Disney and the beach  that I could never have fathomed
~insurance to pay for a new kitchen I've wanted for years...even if I can't figure out what I want!
~online friends, especially when I can't be out and feel alone

~a piece of dark chocolate every day!

~homeschooling and flexibility 
And, many, many more....