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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Be Real

Hello, dear friends! I’ve been away for a while now. I would love to say that I have just been so busy that I didn’t have the time to write. That would not be accurate or honest; anyone that knows me knows how much I value honesty.

So, I am coming clean with you. I’ve been suffering from some mild depression for a while now and instead of taking my own advice and seeking the counsel of others and pressing into the Lord, I’ve just been trying to cope with it any way I knew how. Food has become a comfort to me in such a way that I have managed to gain a significant amount of weight and have some tough decisions to make.

There are some medical reasons for the weight gain, but I can’t say it’s all due to hypothyroidism. I could infer it is because of my quitting smoking, and that’s the reason for the excessive weight gain. The truth is that since I no longer work, and I am home all the time now, food is always accessible. And food choices aren’t always the best.

I’ve always battled my weight, ever since adolescence. I have never been this heavy in my life and in order to be at a healthy weight, I need to lose over 250 pounds. It really is overwhelming and depressing and this is the mindset I need to get rid of. 1398614719289

I know that I can work to eat healthier and slowly lose the weight or I can have surgery that my doctors have recommended. Either way, it will be a slow process and I am not entirely sold on the weight loss surgery.  Since I am considered to be Morbidly Obese with a BMI of over 61, I am a high-risk surgery patient already.

Hearing the words morbidly obese puts it all into perspective. Morbid meaning unhealthy and could lead to death. Truly a scary thought! I am not ready to die because I weigh too much. I need to start moving and doing. I can give anyone a pep talk, but giving myself pep talks never seem to have much of an effect.

I am blessed to have a friend that is nutritionally wise and has agreed to help me formulate a plan for me. She has offered several times over the past couple of years, and I know now is the time to take her up on the offer. And I also am aware that I need to be “all in” or “nothing”.

Addictions are hard to beat. It took me 30+ years to quit smoking. And I have to remind myself daily that I do feel better now that I don’t light up. That doesn’t mean that I don’t crave a cigarette from time to time or when I smell smoke from a passerby that I don’t want to inhale it; because that would be a lie. But I know for a fact that if I was still smoking, I would need more than weight loss surgery to make me healthier.

I never thought of food being addictive until now. The truth is I love to eat. And now that I don’t smoke, so many foods taste really good and I love flavors. Now I have to learn to eat healthy for life. Not a diet, but a lifestyle change.

I have felt spiritually attacked on many levels in my life also. Satan knows when we are down and he knows exactly what will get to us and uses that to bring us down and become discouraged. And if we don’t recognize that, we can spiral out of control. It can be a slippery slope for sure.

In John 10:10 the Bible tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came so we could have life abundantly. In

In 1Peter 5:8, we are told to be self-controlled and alert because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I have always been able to hold onto the Joy in my heart placed there by the Savior. I don’t know what happened or how it happened so fast; I realized that I was running on empty and needed serious refueling. My love languages are quality time and touch. I love spending time with people and giving and getting hugs.  Being in the confines of the four walls of our home, not being around others, was truly having a depressive effect on me; even though I have always been the type of person that has no desire to go “out”. I would much rather stay home with a good book.

I have heard versions of the Serenity Prayer but never seen this one until recently.
Serenity Prayer
– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Read more at BeliefNet

So, in accordance with that prayer, I need to change what needs changing to help me live a longer and fuller life, accept what I cannot change and be wise to know the difference. I need to remember to live one day at a time, enjoying each moment I am given and realize that the hardships that I go through help grow me and teach me to rely on the peace of the Father. I need to surrender to the Lord. I am blessed.

In Proverbs 3:5 the Bible tells me that I am not to lean on my own understanding but to trust in the Lord and he will take care of me and make a straight path for me.

In John 14:27 the Bible tells me that Jesus leaves me peace, that only He can give. I am not to let my heart become troubled or afraid.

I know that every single day I must trust in the Lord, for EVERYTHING. He gave me life and he came to earth as a man so he could die for me and I could live forever with Him in eternity. While I am here in my temporary home, I need to honor the Lord with my temple. This temple needs a good shaking and cleaning. I’ve let it go for way too long!

May I encourage you today that whatever you are in the midst of, know Jesus is there with you. He is your mighty King and creator. He loves you. Trust in Him.

Blessings to all~Carlene