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

 

 

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Keeping it Real

For the Lord, your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

 

 

I am encouraged by reading the above passage of Scripture.  Yes, Jesus is living among us. His Holy Spirit lives within me. He is Mighty and Powerful. He delights in me! He calms my fears with a love like no other and He rejoices over me with joyful songs.  This verse reminds me that no matter how things may appear to me, my Heavenly Father rejoices over me and my life!

I firmly believe that everything that we go through in life is for a greater purpose than we can see or imagine. I know that God is in control and when you have a personality like mine that wants to fix all the problems around and ease burdens, it’s easy to think you’re on your own.

HAHF

I love the Lord with an everlasting love. One that cannot be diminished by my circumstances. I know there is nothing I will ever face that he can’t possibly understand or hasn’t overcome.

I’ve been feeling out of sorts of late and I cannot pinpoint why.  I can think of many reasons but not specifically pinpoint it. Two years ago, when an invisible chronic illness forced me to reevaluate my life and retire early at the age of 51, I wasn’t sure what would happen or how our family would make it without my income, but I knew God would provide a way.  It was scary.  I had worked since I was 16 and being someone who typically fixes problems, I really had no idea how to fix this. I knew though, that if I didn’t start taking care of myself, I wouldn’t be good for anyone else.

I have never been the type of person that puts my needs above others. I am not wired that way, so trusting God and the Peace He imparted to me, made the decision, although scary, so much easier to make.

Three months after taking early retirement, my daughter and I sat inside a small exam room of our local Children’s hospital Developmental Pediatrics clinic finding out her son, our youngest grandchild, had Autism Spectrum Disorder and that opened up a whole new set of scary challenges. He was nonverbal. That was in 2016. He has found his voice but doesn’t answer many questions yet, unless they are specific questions he can answer.

No matter how much pain I was in, every day I would research and work with him to help him understand, teach him simple signs so he could make his requests known and try to bridge the gap between his mind and the world. His favorite phrase, now is “I love you too.”  He climbs up on my lap, wraps his arms around my neck and repeats that phrase over and over. Melts my heart.

Living within our means was a challenge when I was working full-time and bringing home a paycheck every other week. Living on a fixed income and having enough to last from month to month is nothing less than a miracle from God. And there are some months, there isn’t enough, but God always provides for our needs. We have found hope through food pantry programs and installment plans on bills to carry us through and the love of family and friends.

Somewhere along the way, dreams changed, priorities shifted and I feel like a failure. I know I should not feel this way, but deep down, if we are keeping it real, I do. I can’t be on my feet for very long periods, or my legs go numb all the way to my feet, the searing back pain makes me want to sit down and cry, but I hold the tears back.  The widespread pain I used to experience throughout my body is held at bay by all natural supplements I use and I thank God every day that I found those.  However, they don’t help with the searing pain in my back. It’s the type of pain you learn to live with and you adapt. Pain changes a person, even if you try your best not to let it.

I had hopes of working til actual retirement age and retiring to a warmer state with no snow and no cold weather.  But I don’t see that in my sights anymore. Now I see therapies, medical appointments and helping our grandson thrive in his life. And I truly am not trying to sound like I am complaining, because I love this little guy and would do anything within my power to help him succeed.

I don’t like clutter anymore. At one time, it didn’t bother me as much as it does now. I would guess the fact that I see it 24 hours a day 7 days a week probably has a lot to do with that. When I was working, and then coming home to a mess, wasn’t as important as sitting down and relaxing before cooking dinner, bathtime, and bedtime. Now everywhere I turn, there is a mess. Yes, having a toddler in the home is a tiny part of the problem, but the biggest reason, is I have become too complacent in keeping the house in order. For the past two years, I have been saying the clutter has to go, and yet as I view the room around me, it seems not only has it not gone anywhere, but it has increased! My answer is simple, rent a dumpster, and start tossing. It sounds like an amazing idea until you figure the costs and realize the budget you live on will never work with the idea.

A year ago, my physician encouraged me to consider having a bariatric surgical procedure to help me feel better. And I did consider it but knew there was no way that I would be able to have the allotted time for recovering from such a procedure available to me, so I gave up on those plans. I have been considered morbidly obese for years and no amount of changing the way I eat, ever seemed to help. Exercising is so difficult because of the searing back pain that I have become resigned to being the size I am. And that is scary because I know that if I don’t lose some weight and get down to a healthier weight, I am not only putting my health at risk, I am shortening my lifespan.

This depression in me has rendered me “stuck”.  I want to do more with my life. I want to be a light to others. I want to be healthy. I want to be around for at least another 40 years or so, God willing, but I know that if I don’t find a way to get moving, more than I am now, I may end up more disabled than I already am.

Since 2005, I have struggled with a thyroid problem. I was diagnosed with Graves disease that year, because not only did I have a thyroid disorder, but I also had an autoimmune disorder. I have been without a thyroid gland since 2006 when it was eradicated by radioactive iodine treatments and have had to remain on medications that replicate the production of thyroid hormones that control the organs in my body.  I have been struggling with keeping my TSH levels in the normal range and finally some good news that the dose they have me on is finally showing good results.

Living with obstructive sleep apnea requires me to wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask every night and the machine forces air into my throat and keeps my airway open. About a year ago, I found out that even though my CPAP equipment was working properly, my cells and organs were not getting enough oxygen to live well. So, supplemental nighttime oxygen became part of my routine as well. When someone lives with OBSA, if they sleep for 12 hours or 2 without equipment to help keep their airway open, they will always feel fatigued and may suffer from headaches, leg cramps, falling asleep the moment they stop moving or talking. I never realized how important oxygen saturation in our bodies was until I was lacking it. I felt like a zombie and couldn’t comprehend why I was feeling so horrible, until I was informed, after testing, that even though my airway was remaining open during sleep with the CPAP, my oxygen saturation levels were dangerously low nearing 60%, not the recommended 90% or higher. For me, sleeping without my CPAP/Oxygen is not optional. The only way I can sleep without it is in an upright position and then I am still lacking the proper oxygen my body needs.

As my husband, grandson and I prepare to take a vacation, that has meant putting aside money we really don’t have, so we can get away and relax, I have come to realize this may be what I  need to get back into the right frame of mind. A change of scenery and climate, along with being able to visit a loved one that I miss deeply, might just boost my energy levels again. I am counting down the weeks until this becomes a reality.

Every morning as I sit with God and pray, I see the clutter in my home and I don’t want my heart to remain in a cluttered state. I need to embrace the purpose in my days. Seeing the same four walls and facing the same daily challenges in raising a special needs child can make anyone feel isolated and alone. I know it has for me. I have always been a “people person”. I love being around others and engaging in conversations and somehow, I have got to find a way to do that again. As far as the clutter, I know that many experts suggest starting off small, working on a small area at a time and not looking at the big picture. It’s just so hard when you see the entire picture daily. There is no shutting it off.

I know our lives are always a work in progress. Growth can’t come if we are not willing to change or try things in different ways. I know that for every failure I have ever experienced in my life, there has been a lesson learned and life always looks better when you get through the testing than when you are going through it.

And I know, that the feelings of failure and sadness that have been holding my heart hostage, they too shall pass. I know this because I am loved. I am worthy. I am enough.

Thank you for listening to the ramblings of someone who knows that I have much to be thankful and grateful for and that no amount of “feeling sorry for myself” will help. I guess I need to see the words and read them to realize that. And I owe it to all of my readers. Without readers, there would be no blog and no reason to realize that God will allow many events in our lives to take place as He works on molding and shaping us into the person He created us to be.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now, wherever you are and He is always available to you! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope & Healing

God promises that He has a plan for our lives, He promises that he will give us abundant life, He promises to keep us safe from harm and He promises to give us HOPE and a future.

“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 NIV

This particular scripture has been my “go to” Life Verse for as long as I can remember. Many days when I was struggling to keep my emotions in check and appear that I had it all together, when in fact, I did not, this one verse became my lifeline. I would remind myself over and over that God had promised he had a plan for me. Plans to prosper me and these plans would not hurt me and they would give me hope and a future.  And knowing the God of the Universe cared enough about me and my life, has always been enough to keep me going.

In 2008, I took a bad fall down a flight of stairs and then my life started changing dramatically. I started having continuous chronic widespread pain, that never went away but would become worse if I overdid it. My fatigue levels were crazy! Taking power naps anymore just wasn’t enough to keep me going on long days. And if I didn’t get enough rest, the pain was almost unbearable and there was no relief in sight. Every time I spoke to my physician about how  I was feeling, I would constantly hear, “we can’t find anything wrong” “your blood work looks normal” “as you get older, your body is going to have aches and pains” “you must be imagining it” “there is nothing we can do” and the list goes on. Talk about feeling hopeless.  But then I would think… God says HE has a plan for me. So even though I can’t see any good coming from all I am going through, I am going to TRUST Him, because I know His plans are so much better than I could ever imagine or dream.

Eleanor Roosevelt quote

In 2010, I finally found a doctor that was willing to listen. After two years of complaining to numerous doctors, getting labs done, imaging tests, exams and even counseling, finally someone was willing to look through my charts and see a pattern emerging and sent me to a Rheumatologist that confirmed her suspicions. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder for which there is no known cure and treatments that work for some people have no effect on others. Along with this new found diagnosis, I learned that my energy levels would soon become very precious to me and I would have to pick and choose what I did each day.  It has been said in medical journals and research that most people that develop this specific illness usually happens as a result of trauma to the body or caused or brought on by added stress to the body.  I believe the result of this diagnosis was in direct correlation to the traumatic fall I had when I fell down a flight of stairs, face first and landed with physical injuries that healed, but trauma to my entire body in the fall set off the chain of events that led to the chronic condition.

Fast forward to May of last year (2017), in this blog, I wrote about how this disorder was like living in a prison. And 7 months ago, I had pretty much given up hope, I was clinging to the verse that God had plans for me, but it wasn’t the strong faith I had always had, it was mustard seed faith. I was beginning to think that, for whatever reason, that I was being allowed to go through this type of suffering, I just couldn’t see that anything good could come from it.  (Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.) But, I chose to trust in the Lord and all His promises, even though I couldn’t see the light at the end of my dark tunnel. My faith had carried me all my life since I was a young girl and I wasn’t going to let this disorder change me like that.

And then the most amazing thing happened, God sent a messenger to me and she gave me hope.  No promises, but renewed hope. Did He see how my hope was faltering? Did He know that I was losing hope and that my faith was weak? OR Had this been part of His plan all along and now the pieces were finally falling into place?

I choose to believe that everything that led up to that day in May when I had lost almost all hope and was only hanging on by a thread of faith was all part of God’s Plan for my life.  Why do I choose to believe it?? Because I am a walking miracle!!!

After trying all kinds of prescription medications, physical therapies, and various medical solutions, none of which provided relief from the constant pain I was in, God was and is using plant-based supplements to heal my body from the inside out! I am forever grateful that I chose to listen with an open mind and heart when His messenger reached out to me.

I will admit that I was very skeptical that any type of supplement/vitamin could work for what I had been suffering from for over 7+ years. But then I thought, what have I got to lose?? If it didn’t work, then it didn’t work, but what if it did???  Trust me when I say this when you live with any type of chronic condition, and have tried just about everything the medical profession throws at you and nothing helps, the thought of taking supplements almost seems crazy, but I figured that was the only thing I hadn’t tried yet, so why not?

God/Jesus Christ is Sovereign, He Reigns Above ALL. He can heal people in whichever way He chooses. And He decides whether our physical infirmities are healed this side of Heaven or not. I firmly believe that. Jesus healed our souls when He died on the Cross.

(Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes, we are healed (our souls have been healed, cleansed, made right with God so we can live eternally with him).

Since starting these amazing plant-based supplements, and getting to the root issues of the diseases and disorders that I have been living with for years, my body is starting to heal from the inside out. No, they are not magic. Yes, you do have to be consistent in taking them, every day. Getting enough hydration through water, which our bodies need to function properly, as God designed them, and making better food choices, and yes, even exercise~all of that together, along with these supplements loaded with prebiotics, probiotics, magnesium, and many other vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function (without sugar, gluten or GMOs)  is transforming how I feel and how I look!

God gave me my life back and now I choose to share with anyone that is willing to listen that there is HOPE. It comes in many forms. And for each of us, it may be different. But the one thing He promises is we can always have Hope. Hope in a God that loves us so much that He died upon a cross for us.

There’s this company based out of Scottsdale, Arizona that cares about people and their health and happiness. They care for their customers, their Ambassadors that have come to not only know the amazing products and the benefits of the products because for most of us, we are a product of the products. We all have our own stories to tell of how choosing to take a chance with Plexus Worldwide has not only given us our health back but has given us hope when we didn’t have any left.

sluggish

I thank God every single day that He is allowing me to live again. I would much rather live with the aid of supplements that are created with plants, and a few products have New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels in them, that God provides for all of us, than to rely on synthetic/genetically modified medications created by man.

God has always provided for our needs~all of them. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that. And the good that came from what I went through, well now I can understand how others may be feeling and offer them not only comfort but hope.

May you know how very much Jesus Loves You~right now in this moment and always!

Blessings and thanks for stopping by! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

 

~Carlene