Category Archives: Perspective

**Defining Moments**

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

1 John 5:14-15 NLT

The past few weeks, our church sermons have been about defining moments in our lives where you knew they were orchestrated by the Lord. Times of trials and joys and what was it that made it a defining moment for you? Did this moment in time grow your faith? Show you how much Jesus listens to you, your cries, your prayers? And would you be willing to share your testimony of what those defining moments looked like in your life?

These sermons started me thinking. What have some of the most defining moments in my life been and there are two that stand out. Oh yes, I have had more than two and I am sure at some point I will share those also, but these really rooted my faith in the Father.

I gave up my life to follow Jesus at the age of 11. I have always been someone that loves Jesus. I had drifted away from talking to him all the time, but in 2006, after many hard times, and trying to do it all on my own, not leaning into Him or focusing on His strength, not mine, he showed up in a pretty big way. If you have heard this before, please forgive the repeat, but these moments were huge for me.

I used to work for a big box retailer and part of my job that day was to count products and make sure they were scanning correctly, fixing shelf labels and enter the data into our system if errors were found. This particular afternoon, I was in one of my least favorite sections of the store. The aisle that holds all the tiny travel sizes of shampoos, toothpaste, lotions, etc.  Those are always a nightmare to count and check, but in order to have accurate counts and correct pricing, like any other item, it had to be done.

I set to the task and started counting, scanning, making notations, printing labels and things were going fairly quickly and as customers appeared in the aisles, I would stop and greet them, ask if they needed help and then continue on with this exhaustive task. One customer kept reappearing in the aisle, but something was different about her. Although she had replied several times that she didn’t need help, I felt a nudge in my heart that not only did she need compassion more than ever, the Lord was telling me to pray for her.

At that moment in my life, I loved praying for others through texts and emails but wasn’t confident about praying out loud for anyone. I always felt I would mess it up somehow, or I wouldn’t know what to say. And if you know Jesus, he doesn’t let us stay in our comfort zone for very long. He is constantly working to stretch us beyond our abilities because this is when He is our strength. He is the wisdom we need in our lives. And as futile as it was, internally I was arguing with Him. I was struggling to offer to pray. But no matter how many times I tried to focus on my job, the Lord wasn’t having any part of it and so I stood from my kneeling position and I asked once again if I could help her.

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As she started to speak, tears gently rolled down her cheek. She told me that she had a brain tumor. She was told that without the surgery, to remove the tumor, she would die, but if she chose to have the surgery, there was a 50% chance she would recover and live a long life. It was scheduled for a few days away and her family didn’t believe in Jesus or God and that she was struggling in what to do. And then she apologized for burdening me with her problems.

I asked for her name. She told me her name was Robyn. I introduced myself to her, although clearly she already knew my name as my name badge was there for the world to see. And then, with a lot of trepidation and internal fear, I asked if I could pray for her. She said that would be great, she always welcomed prayers. But I wasn’t sure she understood my request. So, I went onto say, may I pray for you right now at this moment? Again, she agreed. I asked if I could place my hand on her shoulder and she said yes (by now a small crowd had gathered in this aisle, listening to every word) and I asked God to give me the words. I don’t recall what the words were, but I prayed with her and over her. We hugged and she cried. There were many tears that day. Before she left, she told me that earlier in the day, she had cried out to the Lord and said, Lord if you are in agreement with me having this surgery, I need a sign. I need to know I am doing what should be done. She told me she knew she would be okay and slowly walked away.

I never saw her again. But I know she is living her life to the fullest. And that was the day, I stopped letting fear take over and started listening to the nudges from the Holy Spirit. I think about that moment as if suspended in time. I can see her face, I can feel how I used to think – Why me? Why can’t someone else do it? – and I still remember the blessing of being able to walk in obedience and do what was asked of me, even if I did it with a little bit of fear.  As for my work that day, I did complete it, but with a lot more joy in my heart than when I had started.

The enemy will do everything in his power to squash us, our faith, our relationship with Jesus. He will create doubt within us if we let him. Don’t.  Trust that no matter what Jesus calls you to do, he will give you everything you need to accomplish it!

Christmas tree stand

 

The second most defining moment had to do with our Christmas tree. Our son, now 23, was 11 years old and he loved everything to do with Christmas, but especially putting up the tree. During this season in our lives, there were no extra funds for anything extra. Gifts were made for our children and maybe a few special items from a dollar store.

The night we drag the Christmas tree box out of storage, sort the branches by size and reach into the box to get the plastic tree stand out, his boyish grin, all excited with anticipation, falls to the floor and sadness overtakes his entire face. His shoulders are slumped down and he is about to give up because the plastic stand was old and somehow had broken in several pieces while in storage.  He knew our situation. He knew we didn’t have money to buy a new tree with a stand or a stand that we could use, but I have always believed duct tape is the only tool I need. His father and I were separated and his father lived far away, so coming up with a solution to mend this stand, was forming in my mind, but I knew this was a way to teach him about faith.

I assured him that not all hope was lost. I asked him to retrieve a small board from my closet and the roll of duct tape. I was sure we could fix it. He tried to be brave and not let me see his tears and said, “it’s okay mom, we don’t need a tree this year.” My heart sank. I asked if he believed in the power of prayer and if he believed that God could make this tree stand. He said maybe. So, as I begin to tape together the stand, I prayed to ask God to help me. I knew that for my child to believe, he needed something tangible that he could see. And God knew that too.

After several moments of attempting to tape it together and then fashioning it into something that resembled a tree stand, we secured it to the small wooden board. Again, I asked him, if you believe in your heart that Jesus is God and God can do anything, will you pray with me and let’s ask God to help us help our little tree stand, with all the ornaments and lights on it. With the star on top. For God to strengthen this heavy tree, so we could celebrate Jesus and His birthday. AND if the cat, went exploring, as she always did when the tree was put together, that the broken stand would hold her ground. So we bowed our heads and held onto that board and we prayed. We also thanked God for his love for his children and for his help.

I have no doubt it was all God. That little stand and that tree with heavy ceramic ornaments and many strands of light and a very inquisitive cat,  held up until the tree was finally tossed out as it had many years of use (approximately 10 total, 4 with the mended stand). And his faith grew. He knew that he could go to prayer to God about anything, anytime and God would listen.

As our son, has grown into a man, he knows that sometime’s God says yes, sometimes no and sometime’s wait. But I know as a mother, that was one of his defining moments and definitely one of mine; I am so blessed by the love Jesus shows every day to each of us.

These moments remind me in my darkest times, that God is always with me. That I don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers, because HE is and HE does. It is my responsibility to trust Him in everything and for everything.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! You are His child. He is always listening. He can and will use any mess as a message to others and any test you go through as a testimony to His glory! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

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Reflections in My Mind

Psalm 119:169-170 New Living Translation (NLT)
169 O Lord, listen to my cry;
give me the discerning mind you promised.
170 Listen to my prayer;
rescue me as you promised.

I miss working daily.  I don’t miss rising super early while it’s still dark outside, with little traffic to speak of, but I do miss the daily conversations with co-workers and vendors/customers.  I don’t miss working on holidays or funky schedules because of the type of job it was, but being an extrovert and conversationalist, it’s difficult day in and day out to not talk to people, other than your family members you live with. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family.

I don’t miss being in such severe pain that I would cry every day as I limped to my vehicle for the 10-minute ride home.  I often wished my drive home was longer because this was the only time I had to myself throughout my day. Being a people person; never meet a stranger type gal, I still need quiet time for me.  And since retiring with a disability, the only time I get for myself is when I sleep. (I did have one day over the weekend where my husband took the two children for the day to visit other family members and it was very appreciated!)

There is always someone with me. I am very thankful to have my husband with me, as we continue to grow older and blessed that I get to spend all day with two of our grandchildren and our daughter, but there are moments when you just need your own space. And if you are a parent, then you know even going to the bathroom usually means there will be someone following you in to talk with you or “hang” out.  I never fully understood until I had children of my own, what parents meant when they said they couldn’t even hide out in the bathroom. Our children are grown, but inquisitive toddlers don’t understand their presence is not needed every time.

I used to read three to four books at a time, and now I am lucky to get through one chapter of a book in an entire day!  I miss reading like that.  Just immersing myself in a story, envisioning the characters and the scenes, gripping the book in my hands with a feeling of ‘I know I should go to bed but I can’t put it down just yet’ or ‘I’ve got to see how this ends’ mentality. Now I just pray to make it through one chapter and hope that by the time I can pick the book up again, I won’t forget what I read and have to start it over.  It’s so frustrating how my brain has changed since I retired due to my fibromyalgia and other health conditions.

I look back at where I was in 2016, leaving a job of 16 years, with no plans except trusting God for everything, to where I am now and a whole lot has happened in the short amount of time, but Jesus has carried me through every single situation. He has been my strength, my provider in more ways than one, and continues to be available for me every single second of every day.

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Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

*I was approved for my Social Security Disability within a few months of applying, for the first time on my own. No denial or a need to get an attorney to help me fight, which is all I heard from people when I said I was going to apply.

*Available to help our daughter with her son, after he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as he needed substantial support and constant supervision. Read everything I could get my hands on to learn about ASD and did my own type of “homeschool” to help him(this would not have been possible if I had been working full time).

*I wrote and self-published a book about the Jesus and His mercy and grace.

*Met others that live with the same type of health conditions I have so we can offer one another support and encouragement.

*My faith increased as I saw God’s hand in my life and the lives of those I love.

*Drew closer to the Lord through trials and tribulations of going from having an income to no income to a fixed income and thankful for pantries and organizations that help when you need it.

I’ve been blessed to witness so much in our grandson Tyson since his diagnosis in 2016. He was nonverbal. Now he is speaking. He made no eye contact or engaged with others, now he is doing better. He lived in his own world, and now he lets us in.  Every victory, big or small, is celebrated. And when I look back at to where he was at 26 months to now, I am so thankful God has placed the right therapists, doctors and medical support staff in our path.

I’ve sat with my husband at doctor appointments for myself and him, as we navigate the many health issues we have and I am thankful I was able to do that for him and not wonder what is going on, as his memory isn’t what it used to be.

I have seen our older grandchildren blossom into thinkers and doers. Always being kind and helpful to others. Moments that I would have missed had I not retired. But early retirement comes with a price. When it’s not planned and you have no life savings or retirement funds to look forward to, there is always the concern that what will happen if there is an emergency or a crisis.  Even in those moments, the Lord has seen us through.

I miss having a steady income stream. Or should I say I miss my hourly rate of pay? If I were to figure out my monthly disability income as an hourly wage, I would be making a lot less than the federal minimum wage.  And that 2% cost of living increase the federal government was so kind as to give people that receive social security doesn’t even begin to cover anything. But an increase is better than a decrease I guess. Receiving benefits once a month versus weekly or bi-weekly truly teaches the value of money and what you spend your money on.  Going to the movies, out to eat, bowling, museums, etc. that is a rarity. Trying to explain to children why they can’t have a $3 happy meal is difficult some days, but it is not the end of the world. Life goes on.

The one thing I despise is having a chronic condition and going to urgent care or emergency room because the pain you have is something out of the normal for you and if they know you have an autoimmune disorder, many tests/scans that might be done for a person without a chronic invisible illness, presenting with the same complaints and symptoms, isn’t even considered or done because of the chronic condition you have.  Why does the public or medical personnel think that every person with chronic pain related condition is seeking out drugs or medications for pain relief??? Sometime’s all you want is an answer to why you are feeling so poorly and wanting help.  You know it’s not the same kind of pain you live with day in and day out, but once they hear the F word (fibromyalgia) it’s chalked up to that and nothing is done. I know why, so you don’t need to tell me, it really was a rhetorical question.  Because there are many people that have cried wolf one too many times and makes it bad for the rest of us that truly do need help.  I don’t take any kind of pain medication that I can’t purchase over the counter from the pharmacy.  I can’t due to another health condition.

Prayer and focusing on Jesus and His Word carries me every day. I could complain all day long, but it won’t help me feel better.  It will actually suck the life out of me. Focusing on how blessed I am and how thankful and grateful I am makes me feel better, even on pain filled fatigued days.

Yesterday was a pain filled day. It didn’t start out that way, but as the day progressed, the severe muscle spasms that come when they feel like it and leave the same way, almost debilitated me yesterday.  As I was trying to reach something just out of my reach, they started in my abdomen, worked their way under my ribs on both sides and into my back and shoulders.  When these hit, there isn’t one thing that makes them better.  Lots of little things I try: stand up, bend over and hang in that position for a while, press firmly on my sides, try massage, ice packs, heating pads, a lot of breathing in and out slowly much like a woman having contractions in labor. I wish I could just walk them out similar to leg and foot cramps, but I am at the mercy of my body. And as they relaxed to a dull ache, and not a stabbing pain, I was finally able to lay down and rest. I hate when I have days like that. I’ve been dealing with these stupid spasms for over ten years. No one knows why they happen, or how to prevent them. I’m not low on magnesium or potassium, it’s not my heart, it’s just one minor inconvenience of having fibromyalgia.

I do take a supplement that helps with overall pain, but it’s not a cure-all for all my pain.  How I wish it was. But I am very thankful to have it as a tool that I use daily.

I am in the process of listening to the Lord and seeking guidance on writing another book. Not sure when it will happen, if it will happen but I feel a tugging on my heart to do it. I know God gives us the desires of our hearts and the gumption to achieve them.  I am still waiting to discern the topic for the book. My thoughts are jumbled and my spirit believes it has to do with His might and our worth in Him, but forming the words into sentences that make sense and will help others know Him more intimately, are still randomly bouncing around in my mind.

Our homelife recently changed, as our granddaughter Emmalin made her presence known. We are adjusting to having a baby in the house again and loving the fact we can see her daily, but how easy we forget the demands of a new babe and they have no sleep routine yet. They are more powerful than they realize. It’s all good.

As for reading, I am currently reading a book called The Autism Answer by Dr. Frank Lawlis. I will let you know what I think if I finish it.The Autism Answer by Dr Frank Lawlis

It’s only 122 pages long and years ago, I could have read that in a few hours. I have had it since last Friday and only have made it to page 11! So, maybe if the stars align, and Tyson is having a good day, and health problems don’t arise, maybe I will finish it before summer time.

I know this post has been all over the place, but that’s where my mind is today. My husband is having some health issues without any kind of answers and I will not say I am worried because worry gets you nowhere.  I am concerned that no answers of any kind seem to be attainable right now, but I will continue to press into the Lord and seek his guidance and wisdom.

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

Blessings ~ Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raging Storm

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Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I love our grandson Tyson. I will do anything for him. Today, I did a whole lot more praying over him and crying out to my Lord, Jesus Christ seeking guidance and peace.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 NLT

I am worn out. We all are. One minute the day is going well and the next we are trying to figure out what sets him off into a crying, screaming, angry little guy. These meltdowns use to be sporadic, now they’re daily, off and on all day until he falls off into dreamland. Whatever is triggering these meltdowns is also affecting his speech therapy at school and in the outpatient setting. Maybe he’s tired of going all the time and just needs a break; we really have no idea.

The few times I’ve seen him focus on anything here at home lasts only for 5-10 minutes. He has combined type ADHD. Not only is he very hyperactive, he also struggles with focusing on tasks and is very impulsive. His Developmental Pediatrician says it could be attributed to being autistic while also dealing with adhd and seeking sensory input or wanting to avoid sensory overload. While we are trying medication to help in those areas, we are also waiting to start ABA services.

I wonder when these raging times happen if he’s in pain we don’t know about or he believes we know why and wonders why we aren’t helping him.

We have had one day this month where we saw a glimpse of our happy loving child. In our eyes nothing was different than any other day, but for him it was. He laughed and played and not one angry outburst or meltdown. I actually marked that on my calendar; as a reminder he did have a good day. Something to hold onto. Hope if you will.

My heart breaks for him. To live a life where he can’t express the noise within except by lashing out. He kicks, body slams into walls and doors, hits, bites, pulls our hair, throws toys, cups, plates full of food. I fear he is regressing in some way and I don’t know how to stop it.

Being 4, he is very inquisitive and like most children, special needs or not, he still investigates tools and their uses, tries to help fix things he thinks needs fixing or breaking something so he can fix it. And in his mind if something breaks, we can just go to the store and buy another.

Up until this behavior became an everyday thing, I would hear from other parents of the struggles they were going through and thank God we weren’t. Now I understand the sheer exhaustion of it all.

His baby sister will be arriving in a couple of months and as much as I don’t like to worry, because it only causes more unnecessary stress, I wonder what our life will be like then.

I know God is in control. I know He has great plans for Tyson. My prayer is that we will figure out how to help him in regulating his moods so we can live in our home without tears daily. For all of us.

As I sit here and gaze upon this sleeping child, there is a sense of peace that I haven’t seen across his face for a very long time.

I don’t know what our future holds, but I know The One who holds our future.

Father God, Help us help him. Help us be the light in the darkness of these storms. Strengthen us and pour out your peace upon us all. In Jesus Mighty name. Amen

May you know how much Jesus Loves You…right here…right now.

Jesus can turn any mess in our lives into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~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