Daily Life Struggles

Proverbs 15:15 The Message (MSG)

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

 

With joy in my heart, I still struggle.  Joy comes from the Lord and no one can take that from me. I can choose to live with a joyful heart and know that I will still face many struggles and trials, but still, love and be the person I am because God has placed Joy in my heart or I can choose to live without joy and be miserable always.

Over the weekend, the fibromyalgia flared up and reared its ugly head. The constant pain that never fully leaves, but some days are so rough, that just breathing and moving, make you question if getting out of bed was the right thing to do. And knowing that if you choose to remain in your bed, how many things will face you to take care of once you arise.  Most of us that have fibromyalgia know that sometimes the best we can do for ourselves is to stay in our beds or the comfy places we have carved out in our homes. We do not have the energy to get dressed, shower, or do any extra. Getting up takes every ounce of energy just to be able to spend time with our families, and going anywhere is totally out of the question. That was me on Saturday. I showed up, in my nightgown and I stayed in my nightgown all day. I KNEW I was not going out into the cold for any reason and I saw no point in causing myself more pain to get dressed simply because that was expected of me.

I have dealt with FM for 10 years. And for the past year, it has been manageable. But for the past several months, I have noticed since stopping the natural supplements I was using, my inflammation throughout my body and the pain levels have been increasing again.  I choose to work through my pain in prayer and time with the Lord. Limiting what I do. Staying in more than going out and while dealing with my own health battles, helping our grandson through his.

He has come a long way in the past two years since being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He talks now. He is becoming very independent, but also very demanding. He is four. When he wants something, he wants it now. And even though he asks for something correctly and always says please, he does not understand when he is told no.  He tries again, to word it differently or even smile and say please and sometime’s the answer is still no. I know it must be confusing, because he is being polite, and saying please, but simply does not understand that even if you do everything right, sometime’s the answer will still be no.

So imagine being in such excruciating pain, that you do not want anyone touching you; let alone a four-year-old jumping on you, bouncing into you, climbing on you, but you don’t dare say no because you don’t want to make him feel unloved. He doesn’t understand what it means when I say “that hurts” or “please don’t do that”. And he loves to give big hugs, he loves deep pressure. He loves climbing behind me on the sofa and me leaning back on him, but all I want to do is cry because every amount of playtime for him is pain time for me. But I do it because this brings him comfort and joy. Love is powerful that way.

I left my home on Sunday to go to church. I needed that more than I knew. I didn’t realize how much I missed the interaction with others until I was there. I interact with people daily through social media and texting, but it just isn’t the same as being able to see smiles, receive hugs and just be loved on for simply being you. By the time, my husband and I arrived at the church with our grandson in tow, we were both emotional. My emotions were creeping near the surface, ready to spill out in the form of tears. My husband was frustrated because our grandson is a runner and any chance he gets, he bolts. Even though he had his safety harness on, and my husband was holding onto the strap, he wasn’t ready to go on a run with him.

And Tyson has learned that if we are trying to pick him up from the ground, and we want him to stand, all he has to do is bend his knees when we are lifting him and he becomes heavier to maneuver.  He is big for his age. He’s four, but weighs 50 pounds and is over three and a half feet tall. Carrying him for any length of time is strenuous to us “old” folks. Wrestling him into his car seat so we can go anywhere is an everyday battle. Once in the seat, he does ok, but getting him in the seat is a battle, every single time. And he has to be in a five-point harness because otherwise he would be climbing all over the vehicle and exploring.  Safety and danger are words he does not understand. He always wants to sit in a regular seat with just a seatbelt but we know that won’t happen until he is much older.

Walking into the church lobby, as we were greeted, the tears started welling up, and I just didn’t have the strength to hold them back or hide behind a pasted-on smile and pretend everything was good. I was tired. Tired of my own pains, tired of always struggling with Tyson when we need to leave the house. Tired of always being the positive one. We all have our breaking point. Yesterday was mine.  I know the devil will do anything he can to try and break me. For the past three weeks, I have opted not to leave the house on Sunday. I’ve made excuses, stayed home, watched our church’s live stream of the sermon and remain isolated because that was so much simpler than struggling with him to go anywhere. In doing that, though, I lost out on connecting with other people and being surrounded by people that love us through all our struggles; people that are compassionate and caring and offer to help in any way they can.

Sailing Life

I think for most of us that live with autistic individuals it’s not that we don’t welcome the offers of help or hope that someone will be willing to help, it’s that we don’t know what kind of help to ask for. Our home is “proofed” for him. We have specialized gates, taller than him to keep him safe and confined to an area of the home where there isn’t danger. We have learned not to have “pretty” things that he can break. We know if he is outside, he must always be (1) holding your hand tightly (2) have his safety harness on (3) be secured in his specialty stroller with a vest and five-point harness or (4) be in a fenced-in area where no escape is possible. We know he has food aversions and sensitivities. We must always have his emergency seizure medications at the ready and available. And the list goes on. Going anywhere, we must still take a change of clothes bag and appropriate necessities, because he isn’t potty trained yet. And if someone opts to take him for a few hours, what if he hurts himself, has a seizure, breaks something, gets sick. Yes, he is verbal now. Can he communicate everything he needs to? No.

The one thing I can offer to those willing to ask: please don’t stop asking. For me, it’s hard to ask for help for anything for myself, Tyson or our family. But I am learning to accept it. Accepting prayers from others is easy. I love to pray for others too. Accepting offers of helping with Tyson is getting easier, but I know how challenging his behaviors can be and I know that we never know from one moment to the next what he understands and what he doesn’t, but we do know he is very smart and intelligent in many ways. And letting go and accepting help may not be in my nature, but being part of a community of people that love us regardless of our challenges does truly make all the difference in the world.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~right at this moment and always.

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings until next time~Carlene

 

 

Advertisements

For My Mom~Happy Birthday

Exodus 20:12  New International Version (NIV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Today I am choosing to celebrate my most favorite teacher of all time. She helped to shape and mold me into the woman I am today. Without her in my life and showing me the ropes of life, teaching me about the ups and downs a woman will face throughout her life; understanding the heartaches and pains a mother goes through; I would not be the person I am.

This woman has given selflessly to more than just me. She has mothered many children as her own, many that have adopted her as a second mom, always willing to listen and just be there. No answers for the many problems or challenges that any of us have faced, but offering two simple suggestions:

  1.  Always Be Kind – you never know what others are going through.
  2.  Give it to God – and leave it there. Don’t pick it back up and then give it back. Give your cares and fears and worries to God. Pray and wait for His answer. And while you are praying, I will pray too.

She is always available to listen, no matter how many miles separate us. She taught me how to be self-sufficient and independent. She taught me tact, which wasn’t easy since I have always been the type of person to speak my mind, sometime’s without a filter in place. She taught me anger has a place, but not in the form of raised voices and slamming doors. That anger can be justified if you can use it wisely to learn from or teach with. But to be angry and thoughtless, only causes pain and nothing good or helpful can come from that.

She has taught me to always listen, look at the other’s point of view before speaking and show grace to others. She exemplifies that grace daily. She is the most non-judgemental person I have ever met. She reminded me when my babies were young to hold them, rock them, love them. When they cry, pick them up. They need that sense of security. It will not spoil them. It will help them learn what love feels like. To be loved by another human being is the greatest gift of all, even through tears.

This woman has my heart. She has had my heart since I was in her womb. This woman is my mother. Today is her birthday. I love her with so much love there are not enough words to convey what she means to me and not enough time to share it with you.

I have been very fortunate that I grew up with a mom that chose love over hate. A mother that chose to be and live the way she did regardless of her circumstances before she was a wife and mother. (She had a very hard and abusive childhood the first 8/9 years of her life and at age 10 she was adopted and well cared for and loved and learned what love should be.) She chose to be the parent that would teach and model for her children what she missed out on in her early years. She chose not to let the abuse/neglect she endured to go on with her.

Ours was the home where neighborhood friends came, and she treated them just as she treated her own children. Life wasn’t a bed of roses all the time. There was discipline. There were chores. There were consequences but always seasoned with grace and kindness. Life lessons learned early that have carried my siblings and me all our lives.

She has always been my greatest confidant and as I became an adult and a wife and mother, grandmother, the greatest friend I have. We don’t always see eye to eye but she is always available to chat no matter how far away she lives.

I wish we lived closer than 975 miles from one another, but we don’t. I am thankful for wi-fi and internet, 4G phone services, video conferencing and all the technology that keeps us close when we cannot be together face to face.

mom and me july 2018
Mom and I visiting daddy on his birthday July 2018

Mom, today I hope that as you celebrate the 75 years you have been on this earth that you will know without a doubt that my love for you grows every day more and more. I long for the day when I can be half the woman you are. There are not enough ways that I can express how much you mean to me and how I wish we could be together to celebrate your special day. I know you will be with friends and I know you know you are loved so very much. I am so very thankful that God blessed me with you as my mom! I am hugging you from afar until the day we can be with one another face to face and I can wrap my arms around you and hug you back.  Happy Birthday, Mom~I Love You!!!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~~right now~wherever you are!

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

 

 

Living with an Invisible Illness

Psalm 28:7 New International Version (NIV)
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.

 

I am so thankful Jesus is with me daily. His Holy Spirit resides within me. He keeps me focused when the pain is too much. When the bed seems like the best place to spend my days, he reminds me that whilst I can spend an unlimited amount of time with Him lying in my bed, it’s more difficult to share His love for others from that position.

A little over a year ago, I was in a different place, physically. I was feeling pretty good, my fibromyalgia was held at bay with amazing supplements I was using to heal my body from the inside out.  I truly had forgotten, although I can’t imagine how I could ever forget, the all-encompassing pain that runs through your body when you live with Fibromyalgia. I was walking and moving a lot faster than a snail’s crawl which is how I feel now. It was my hope back then when the pain wasn’t as noticeable, fatigue was held at bay and I felt like a normal person, that I would never endure this painful condition again. I wasn’t afraid to go places and try new things for fear of a flare-up and intense pain that might last for days and weeks.

fibro3

I’ve thought long and hard about posting any of this because I truly believed I didn’t have to deal with it anymore. It was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I know in my mind, as well as my body, that if I am not consistent in using the supplements, eventually my body would go back to what it was and the supplements alone were not enough for the change to take place. I was eating healthier and getting some exercise. As much as I knew this was inevitable, I had hoped and prayed the muscle aches, the pain, the fatigue/insomnia would not come back. Instead of having the sheer exhausted feeling of fatigue, now I am plagued with insomnia. It’s crazy!

But, I push through. I will not quit or give up. That’s not me. I’m not wired that way. Thank you, Lord, that I am not. Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me the strength and determination I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how difficult or slow I may be. And watching people much older than me zoom by me in the grocery store or in a parking lot, makes me realize how slow I am moving. However, I AM moving. So very thankful that is the case and I am not in need of a wheelchair.

And because I guess my hand/wrist felt left out of the pain equation, the carpal tunnel is back with a vengeance. I’m back to using a night splint and sometime’s using the night splint during the daytime so I can function again. I never did learn how to use my non-dominant hand to write with. I wonder if that is even possible at my age? OR if I am too set in my ways to take the time to learn?

My internal temperature gauge is stuck in cold mode. I am rarely warm, no matter how many layers of clothing I wear. This totally sucks. I tried to think of a better way to say it that didn’t sound rude or unbecoming, but it sucks. Plain and simple. That’s why I always try to get my hubby to drive everywhere; his vehicle has heated seats.

I guess the hardest part of living with Fibromyalgia is you never know from one day to the next how you are going to feel. Knock wood, the osteoarthritis in my knees and hips are manageable at this time. The degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine is worse. And the spill I had a few weeks ago, trying not to fall mind you, hasn’t helped.

Because of respiratory problems I live with, I cannot take pain medications to help with my pain. This causes problems with my breathing. Slows it down too much. So I rely on Jesus to carry me through the pain. I spend a lot of time sitting, with my legs propped up as much as possible and I long for the times when I was able to be an active participant in the lives of my family and grandchildren. I have four amazing grandchildren, one lives with us and I am blessed to see him grow and bloom before my eyes. The other three are several years older, involved in extracurricular activities and I haven’t been able to attend any of their outdoor events this year.  It makes me very sad. I love them so much and as much as I know they try to understand, I feel as if I am cheating them somehow and I HATE this part of this disorder/disease.

The other three have known for years that I can’t run and play with them the way their grandfather does. But I have always been able to go before. Now the cool weather is just too much for my body to handle. But I am so very proud of them for everything they do and someday when they are much older, I hope they will know without a doubt that if I could I would have been to every single thing they were involved in.

I push myself many days to get up and get dressed. Put on my “happy” face and “fake” it. I know living with me when I am in pain, is not a walk in the park. I become irritable and grumpy and short with others. I do my best not to let this side of me come out from behind closed doors, but it is so difficult because some days just getting dressed wears me out. The thought of running to the store to grab a few things is exhausting just thinking about it. It’s great if the store you go to has electric carts for customer use, that actually work and will last for the entire time you are in the store, but many are used so much they never have a chance to fully charge and the only thing worse than not having them available is using them to shop and the battery dying in the middle of your  shopping trip and then it’s like being stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. Now you have a full basket of goods, but no cart in sight to transfer them to.

The single most agonizing part of the widespread pain returning is the muscle spasms that come, out of nowhere. I turned my head earlier to look at something, not quickly, but as I turned my head, a sharp muscle pain and I just had to wait for it to pass. And I get these spasms throughout the day, everywhere. Many you cannot just walk out. Most of the time you just have to wait until your muscles relax. It may be myofascial pain. I’ve been reading about it. This is something I will have to ask my physician the next time I see her.

I have many friends that live with Fibromyalgia and as much as we can be there to support one another, all of us live with it and have varying symptoms to varying degrees. Many of my fibro friends, can’t stand the hot weather or warm temperatures, drains them and all their energy. For me, I am completely the opposite. I love the heat. The hotter the better. Cold weather sucks the life right out of me. There isn’t a coat or blanket warm enough to keep me comfortable. And of course, I live in a state that is known for unpredictable weather.  One day it’s 80, the next it’s 40. It’s no wonder I feel so cold, right?

2 Corinthians 1:3-5   New International Version (NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

I am thankful that I have Fibromyalgia because then I know how to extend comfort to those who deal with it too. I know that God allows us to go through many things in life as a way to be a testimony to others that put their hope in Him. I can still be a light to others by encouraging them, no matter the type of physical pain they experience because our earthly bodies are temporary. This is not our home. We are citizens of Heaven. But I also know that He does not expect us to suffer alone in silence. We are all made for relationship. Relationship with friends and family. All of us have a need to be part of a community, that is loving and supportive. And while all of us can be less than loving and supportive at times in our lives, that is where grace comes in. God gives us grace because He loves us, not because of anything we can do to deserve it. We all fall short in that area. All of us.

Be kind to others. Love them. No one, except for Jesus, knows the internal struggles and battles each and every one of us faces daily. And for each of us, no matter the battles, they can be debilitating if we forget to lean on The One who gives us life. The most important relationship you will ever have in this life is the one you have with Jesus. In my opinion.

Psalm 100:5 New International Version (NIV)
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~here in this moment and always! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings friends~Carlene

 

 

In the Midst of it All

This week has been emotionally exhausting. For several years now, as we live with autism being part of our everyday lives and trek through the ups and downs, I have been sharing how tantrums are not the same as meltdowns. This week has taught me that no matter how much I try to share a glimpse of what a meltdown is or isn’t, there is no way that you can possibly teach others what one is unless they have personally witnessed or experienced it themselves.

raging fire

I can educate others on the differences. I can post pictures on the autism page I manage on Facebook. I can tell others what we go through, but until you weather the storm and watch them unfold, there just isn’t a way to truly get it. I never did. I thought I understood. I thought I knew even after reading different articles, posts from others going through the same thing, hearing about them, but there is no way for anyone to grasp the degree of how emotionally and physically exhausting they are unless you experience them firsthand. And truly, I pray daily that I never have to go through one again.

I will. We will. It’s inevitable. I know as Tyson gets older and learns a coping mechanism and self-regulating strategies, along with all of us learning what the triggers are and techniques to help him get through them, they may lessen and maybe even stop.

Today we are on our third or fourth day in a row of multiple meltdowns per day. The one commonality is that he is happy and playing and wants to do something and he is told, “no.”  Telling him, “no, not right now” or “no, you can’t have that (fill in the blank, it could be a toy, a snack, whatever it is at the moment)” and it starts out as a simple child tantrum.  He becomes angry and cries. And we ignore him, hoping he will settle down and go on, realizing that just because he didn’t get what he wanted, crying and throwing himself on the floor isn’t going to make it so. But for him, once he starts crying, it sets off something inside of him where he becomes very intense and inconsolable. No amount of trying to hold him close and hug him or redirect works.  In these moments, he is lost within himself. As the meltdown increases, his behavior goes from simply crying out, not getting his way to hitting, throwing himself on the floor, running and banging into the walls, furniture, others, trying to bite you anywhere he can to inflict pain, pain that he is feeling, I presume.  And the only way to get him to help him calm down is to forcibly hold him and hug him tightly, but beware, because then he is closer to you and the headbutting and biting are easier to do.

When he was smaller, holding on to him as he stiffens his body or tried to wriggle out of your hold on him, was harder for him to do; now as he as grown (3 1/2 feet tall and 50 pounds), he is a force to be reckoned with.  He has always had superhuman strength, but when he is in the midst of a meltdown, it is quantified. I joke with others that I don’t need to go to the gym for strength endurance because I have my own little personal trainer that helps me with that.  We can’t leave him to flail around on the floor because he doesn’t care in those moments if he hurts himself or hurls items at us. And that is not acceptable. We also know that yelling at him to stop is futile. By this time, it’s not that he isn’t listening to us, he’s past that point and isn’t hearing us.

Jesus gives me the strength to hold onto him, usually facing away from me, because it’s harder for him to aim his head toward mine. As I become the human papoose to restrain him until he starts to wear down, I silently weep, because I don’t how many minutes it will take to reach him. When he finally starts to relax and cries out for me or his mommy or papaw to hold him, we know he is calming down. He is finally back with us.

He can’t be put in timeout, although this has been suggested because he does not sit still for any reason. So, earlier today I put myself in timeout. As he sat with his mommy, after melting for 30 minutes, I withdrew from the room, just around the corner, locked the safety gate, and sat on the stair steps out of his view and I wept. I prayed through my tears.

I know Tyson is a gift from God. He is truly a blessing in our lives. Even in the meltdowns and they have been more than I care to admit lately. I know that there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives. And I also know that being an autism family, Tyson doesn’t need fixing. He isn’t broken. His brain is wired differently than ours and we expect so much from him to live in our world and conform to the world’s standards of how he should act and behave. I know that he sees things differently and I love that about him, he has taught me so many joys that I take for granted. I just always expect the Sun and Moon to be shining in the sky at the right time of day, but each time he sees them, his heart is full of gratitude that God gives him the gift each day.

Zechariah 13:9 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

As we walk through his meltdowns, I liken it to the firestorms of life that God allows us to go through so He can refine and purify us into the people He created us to be. Yes, they are painful. No, they are not pleasant for any of us. But they are necessary. Everything each of us experiences during the midst of these teaches us to be a little more compassionate, a lot more understanding and out of the ashes, love for one another rises.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~in this moment! Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

If You Could Do Anything, What would it Be?

The other night in a women’s Bible Study group, the question was posed ” If you could do anything you wanted, financially there was no limit and God had paved the way and gone before you, what would you do??

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.- Deuteronomy 13:4 NLT

There were a lot of great answers and I selfishly said, I would want to go away and take a break! And at that moment, I meant it.

But I have been giving that question a lot of thought since that night because we all have hopes and dreams, things that we think are way too big or too impossible and I realize that with God, NOTHING is impossible.

27 And Jesus, looking upon them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” – Mark 10:27 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

I believe that sometime’s we get so caught up in the day to day busyness of our lives, no matter what that busyness looks like and we store away our hopes and dreams for ‘when the time is right’ or ‘when I have enough money’ or ‘when our kids are grown’ or ‘once I get that promotion’ and I know that is not how God intended for us to live.  Always thinking that we have to wait until everything is perfect before we try something new, fulfill a lifelong dream, reach for an unreachable desire in our hearts.

I love ministering to others by sharing my story, here, and in person of how my life has been touched by Jesus Christ. I love encouraging others and sharing what it is like to walk by faith and not by sight. My heart is full when friends ask me to pray for them or a situation or share the Word with them.

Follow Your Heart

God will use anyone how He chooses.  The fact is we have to be willing and we have to be obedient to His call. Many people hear from the Lord in a number of ways, and those ways are just as different as there are people to hear Him. I feel a nudge in my spirit to share a message or word He gives. And sometime’s I understand what I am to do and I don’t always obey because fear sets in.  Fear is a tool of the enemy.  The devil will use any tool in his power to stop me in my tracks. Doubt may creep in and I worry more about how I will look, and what people will think, more than caring about The One that nudges me to go and do His work. Sometimes it doesn’t have to make any sense to me.  But I still need to do it.  Walking in obedience to the Lord should be the easiest thing for any of us to do, but many times the chaos of our lives shuts out His voice.  Until we think we need Him and then we wonder why we can’t hear Him. He is always with us and always waiting to connect with us through every part of our lives and always listening.

I still don’t have a solid answer for what would I do if money was no object and God had blessed my vision for what my lifelong dream would be, so I will be still in the waiting and seek his guidance. I do have thoughts, but nothing concrete. I can say, without a doubt it would be geared toward people that have special needs due to a medical/disability diagnosis, but exactly what they type of ministry would it be, I don’t have all the details yet, just a burning fire within me to help these groups of people and it really isn’t any wonder since I love and care for someone that is very special to me and has very special needs.

I would like to encourage you to pursue your dreams. Find something you love and go do it! Because God will give you all the tools you need to fulfill your wildest and crazy dreams; He places those desires in your heart.  It will take grit, determination, and perseverance and there may be times you think you got it all wrong, but this is where your faith comes in.  Faith is believing even when you can’t see!

I do know from my own point of view, I’ve had a tugging at my heart to do something for Special Needs Individuals, that isn’t out there yet-I just have no idea what it is at the moment. And more than just the little guy in our lives that requires so much.

I learned a long time ago, that if you are doing what you love, you will excel at it; if you are working just to earn a paycheck and you hate it; it’s not where you are supposed to land forever.  It may just be a stopping point along your path, to help you grow in an area that needs growth.  God doesn’t have us anywhere to waste our time.  There is always a purpose. And when the time is right, God will have you move and go.  Don’t fear the going. Trust in your Creator.  He knows everything about you.  Everything.

Ministry-serving others can happen anywhere. In our homes, the grocery store, a foreign land, in our day to day with others. We are called to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and His story.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You ~ right where you are ~ in every moment of your lives! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings ~ Carlene

How Did I Get Here?

The past few weeks, I have run the gamut of emotions. Some happy, some sad, mad and angry and some so mixed up I am not sure how to process them, so I sit and I read and I pray. I turn to the Father and seek His guidance. I converse with Godly counsel and friends that love the Lord as much as I do and ask for prayers and wisdom. Doing my best to discern what is from Jesus and what isn’t.

I grew up knowing Jesus. There was never a time in my life I didn’t know about Him or forgiveness, grace, mercy, and unconditional love. And even in my darkest moments, when all hope seemed lost, He was there. He has always been right beside me, His Holy Spirit dwells within me. And just so I don’t sound all high and mighty here, and keeping it real, sometimes knowing all that, I have still tried to figure stuff out on my own, and believe words spoken over me or people’s opinions that belittle me and not stand up for what I know to be TRUTH.  It’s easy to allow it to happen if you don’t remember WHOSE you are.

Life isn’t easy and Jesus never promised that it would be. But He did promise that He would always be with us. He would be our strength because His strength comes through in our times of weakness.

Philippians 4:13 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

In the past several months, I have had many moments where I just want to chuck in the towel and give up. And I hate that feeling.  Sleeping was easy. No problems for me to deal with, no solutions to come up with, no hurt feelings to soothe, just sleep. And that would be a pretty good plan if life didn’t keep moving on and every task for the day was done, but in my world, the real world, sleeping all day is not a healthy thing to do unless I’ve had a flare up with my fibromyalgia, or I am sick or I am so exhausted I just can’t take one more step. Meals need to be made, laundry needs to be done, errands need to be taken care of, family needs to be loved and appointments need to be kept, therapies to go to and the list goes on.

I am a positive person. No matter how bleak things appear or seem, I can always find a bright spot, a sliver of hope. Nothing can be as bad as it seems, and even when it is really as bad as it seems, I choose to trust in Jesus and God and know on faith that God will take the bad, tragic and sorrowful times of our lives and use them for good.  I’ve experienced it. And that’s a promise in His Word (Romans 8:28)

I have difficulty encouraging myself. Many times I just want to let someone else carry the load. I want a break. I need a break. I never imagined at 53, I would be where I am right now and yes, it could be a lot worse than what it is. When we are struggling in any given moment, it seems like it could be the worst low we have ever encountered. And crawling out of the deep dark hole isn’t as easy as it seems. In moments like this, I usually have to shift my perspective, and at times, I don’t want to. I’m tired. Emotionally, more than physically.

I hadn’t planned on being retired and spending most of my waking moments with only the people I live with. I love them, they are my family, but I am a people person. I love having conversations on a variety of topics, I love being challenged to do things I didn’t think possible.

This video from Mercy Me helps me get through some of my darkest moments. It reminds me where my Hope lies.

I didn’t realize that the extreme pain in my lower back would stop me from being able to live the life I so desperately want. And I am not talking about anything exciting or adventurous either. Simply to be able to go to the store, or take a walk more than 10 feet and have to stop and sit. It’s horrible having this continual pain. I hate thinking about it and living with it. I want to lose the burdensome weight I carry on my frame, but to do that I have to be able to exercise, along with eating right,  and while chair exercises are a start, they don’t do much for losing weight. Surgery to repair the damage from the degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine area is not option until such time as I lose a significant amount of weight and my circulatory problems improve. And there have been many loving suggestions from family and friends. I did consider bariatric weight loss surgery, but that would require at least 5 to 6 weeks of recovery with rest and I can’t even get a few days of uninterrupted rest let alone 5 to 6 weeks.

When I injured my knee and tore the meniscus I was told surgery was not an option because of my health and I felt in such a conundrum because if it was too high risk for surgery to repair my knee, why was it okay to have surgery for serious weight loss? It was safe for one but not the other??

Water exercise is great if you have a pool. But if you have to go to a pool, and pay for use, that can be quite costly living on a fixed income that is stretched as far as it will go. Feed your family, pay your bills or go exercise in a pool of water. It usually isn’t a hard choice to make. We have to have electricity, hot water, and food. We have to have a roof over our heads and we have to be able to take care of a little guy that can’t care for himself.

It’s the days when the pain is hard and other’s aren’t feeling well either, those are the most difficult to get through. But, I get through them. So thankful for Jesus. HE is the reason I have made it this far. I am still walking, slower than a snail, but I am walking. I think of the many things I have to be grateful for. I put on some worship and praise tunes, I make a list of who and what I am grateful for and yes, sometimes I sleep.  And ever so slowly, I find my way back to hope, encouragement, and realize everything I go through is just part of my journey.  What I deal with personally and what I go through, helps me to see life from different perspectives. I have been on both sides of the pain.  The times when my pain was manageable and the times when it nearly knocks me out of the game. I work through the depression, talking it out with loved ones, trusted confidants and Jesus.

Currently, I do not take medications for depression. I did at one time when the pain was so great every single day that I needed it. There may come a time when I will have to again, and if that time comes, I will do what I need to for me.

I think of the times Jesus was depressed. I think of the days before His crucifixion when He knew the pain He would endure and how sad and sorrowful he must have been. I think of Him being nailed to a cross and being suspended on that cross and I realize that no amount of pain I go through will ever compare to His. That image in my mind helps me. It helps me remember that my time on earth is temporary. This body I live in is temporary. One day I will have no more pain. I will cry no more tears of sadness, only tears of joy. Until that time comes though, I will minister to others the only way I know how and I will listen, comfort, share my thoughts and opinions and love the life I have. Part of growing in the Lord and living by faith is trusting in what we can’t see and believe in what Jesus has promised.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now in this moment~wherever you are. Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings my friends~Carlene

 

 

My Catherine the Great

Proverbs 31:11-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[a] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[b]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates

She is beautiful inside and out.

She is loving and caring.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is fiercely protective of those she loves and cares about.

She is full of passion for what she believes in and always stands up for her beliefs.

She is strong and does not easily back down.

She is determined and does not quit, that is not an option and she will find her way around any obstacle in her path.

She is an artist with a flair for repurposing items that people see no value in. She brings old things back to life.

She is a great listener and works toward a solution, rather than complain about a problem.

She is an amazing mom of three college graduates who are changing the world around them.

She is a wife, a mom,  an aunt, a sister, and a daughter.

She is an emergency 911 dispatcher who works more hours than should be humanly possible. The first voice you might hear, full of calm and reserve as she manages 500 things at once.

She is a former school bus driver that loved her riders as if they were her own children.

She is an animal lover and considers them family, not just pets.

She never has enough time to take care of herself, she is always caring for others and burning the candle at both ends.

She is wise beyond her years and has seen many things most people will never have to see.

She is faithful and will celebrate 29 years of marriage this month to her loving husband.

She was a cheerleading mom and advisor when her daughter was school age.

She loves her community and has a great tribe that she holds dear and close to her heart.

But one of the best things she is…..she is my sister. And I love her with all my heart and soul. Today is her birthday. I don’t see her as often as I would like, but I hope she knows how very proud I am of her, her accomplishments, which are too many to mention. I know she is always a phone call away. Our family is very blessed indeed!

Cathy

Catherine, I love you sis and I pray that today your birthday will be all you hope for and more! You deserve it! Much love~Carlene

 

May you know how much Jesus Loves You-right in this moment-right where you are! Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all!