Can I make a confession? I haven’t thought much about Easter at all this year. Not until last week when it was pointed out to me when I went back to work in retail after about three weeks off due leave of absence. I was so disappointed in myself not realizing it all. This is the time of year I choose to do my own Lent of giving something up (my church doesn’t do this but I love how it would help me focus in on God.) I did not even think about it the past several weeks.
My focus has been on helping my husband navigate through two surgeries and many doctors to deal with his health issues. We are still trying to get into the correct oncologist/endocronologist.
In my head I heard myself begin to tell myself what a bad “Christian” I was not to remember that it was the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. Condemnation. Ugly lies. My own judgement about myself is harsher than any other person could do.
In the midst of the guilt I heard a faint whisper deep inside reminding me, “No, this is not true.”
Christ knows my heart and intentions. He has been the one carrying us through the surgeries and all the trials, tears, and fears. I have seen his faithfulness. I have felt it. So many friends and family helping us. The TRUTH is that God’s grace is enough to carry me. His love is enough. He loved me so much he died for me. He rose from the grave for me.
He lives! He has shown himself to me in so many tangible ways. It reminds me of the hymn ‘Because He Lives.’
Because He Lives Lyrics
God sent his son
They called him Jesus
He came to love
Heal and forgive
He lived and died
To buy my pardon
An empty grave
Is there to prove
My Savior lives(Chorus)
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives(Verse 2)
How sweet to hold
A newborn baby
And feel the pride
And joy he gives
But greater still
The calm assurance
This child can face
Just Because he lives
And then one day
I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then as death
Gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights
Of glory and
I’ll know he lives
The TRUTH tells me that I have no reason to fear our future. Even though it is uncertain God is in control.
For the last eight or so years we have struggled to get an accurate diagnosis for my husband and his many symptoms. For many years we have been sure it was his heart issues. But then when we finally had a monitor full time in his chest as a small little chip the symptoms were not always matching. Back to yet another doctor. More tests more scratching of the head trying to figure it out. Frustration!
Finally they found something. Goiter from thyroid down below the sternum pressing on the windpipe and nerve going to his heart. We had it removed. They left part of it in as they biopsied the rest that was removed. Two biopsies came back inconclusive. We received a phone call last week, a week after the first surgery.
CANCER was found we need you to come back tomorrow for surgery. Back to the hospital. Whirl wind fast. Finally we have some answers. Not the answers we wanted but we know. Removed the rest of the thyroid. Names of more doctors to call to see if it has spread at all. The type he has can spread from organ to organ. Shocked we just took the next step.
Needless to say the stress of the last several weeks has been so much. Not the answer we wanted. But an answer. Finally after years of not knowing. And only time will tell if it is the only answer. Will the surgery we had relieve the symptoms he has had. Again only time can answer that question.
Through it all I see God’s hand in the many prayers that have gone up from so many of our friends, family, and strangers they have told to pray for us. During the first surgery it was put off due to emergency situation. My sister’s church had been praying for us. They asked how surgery went that morning. Her husband spoke up looking at his watch, actually it is going on right now. The whole group that was there stopped what they were doing and prayed for us during the surgery that was suppose to be 2 hours that went to 6 hours. They are not the only ones who I know has prayed for us, but when she told me this it brought tears to my eyes.
The first surgery I had so many people come to support us. The second surgery was the same with friends and family coming to support us. Each time our friend and pastor came to see us and pray for us. Our church organized some meals for us.
My friend Bonnie over at Faith Barista has been praying and emailed me encouragement since we found out. So many well wishes and prayers have been posted on Facebook. Psalm 139 popped up over and over that day.
Today’s was the first time in forever I actually made it to church on a Sunday, since I work retail, I work most Sundays. It is just the way it is in retail. I still do Bible Studies during the week. At church I just sat singing the praise songs, with the lights turned down, the Music Minister had a song, not sure exactly the name of it but it fit perfect and spoke deep to my heart. He read the passage, “My help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121:2 and we sang the song. I just sat and the tears that had been bottled up from the stress just came. I cried out HELP! My friend came over and sat next to me hugging me and praying for me. It was exactly what I needed. To let some of it out. Not be strong but to say to God that I needed Him and His help to deal with it all.
I am still exhausted and there is still a long journey in front of us. One step at a time. One thing at a time.
Thank you God for all the tangible ways you have shown your love. Through your people. Through your Word. Through surrender. My HELP comes from YOU!
So much swimming through my head: Matt’s chronic health issues, work, daily living stress like (rent, bills, food, cleaning). Sometimes I feel all I can do is barely keep my head above water. I can’t seem to get it all done and life feels chaotic.
Yet God continues to remind me to depend upon him like in Matthew 6 where it tells us not to worry that HE provides. (Sorry I don’t have link still working on learning how to do things on a laptop, like copying and pasting things to link in passages). The thing that worries me most is Matt’s illnesses. I can’t seem to help it. I love him with all my heart.
God has a plan even if I can’t see it. He is in control. I am not saying he is the cause of Matt’s illnesses. I am saying that HE meets me where I am at. He is here with me in the midst of the turmoil and worry.
Confession time, I am NOT a good worrier. When I am anxious, I tend to start to snap and get angry. Somehow in my mind it is better than crying. I try hard not to snap or yell, but it still happens. Sometimes I do good and other times I do not. I want to be in control. I want to be able to make it all better. When I can’t is when I start to worry. Yet my husband give me grace. He still loves me regardless. And so does God.
I love Matt. I keep bringing him before the throne of God and praying for him. I will always do so. He is the man I choose to love and marry. YET as much as I love Matt God loves him even MORE. God really does. I have to remind myself all the time that HE is in control.
Thank you to a coworker who graciously gifted me with an unused computer of his I now have a working computer again. I haven’t had one for over a year now. I have missed blogging and being online as much as my small tablet allowed.
Through the turmoil of the last year I have seen God provide for us in so many ways. Family and friends and coworkers have been the biggest blessing to us. Several friends from work have come and spent time with my husband and helped us get him out of the house.
Through the struggles I see God’s provision. We had food enough do to generosity of others. We had money for bills due to generosity of others.
Several long distance friends have taken the time to call us or let us call them and just talk and vent. I had two dear friends move this last year, they are military families. I miss them terribly yet with Facebook, I still get to enjoy them. I got an Italian Christmas card from one. It was nice to know even though we are long distance we are friends.
I am rambling here just because it is so much fun to be typing and writing again. I so missed it. Writing is so good for my soul. Writing is one thing I did not make time for much this last year. It has been hard to get time to go to the library and use the computer. I am so grateful for a computer again. I sit here wanting to write something profound and all I can think of is I am just so grateful for the generosity of others.
If I had to look back at 2015 and define it by one phrase, I would say God’s Generosity. I see how much he has loved me through ladies in Bible studies, to friendships, to work, to provision. Not to say this year hasn’t been hard and full of trials and struggles and tears. It has been full of these, but more so I see hope through the grateful heart I have for God’s Generosity.
Work – I continue to enjoy cashiering and interacting with the customers more. Ok who am I kidding, the children, are who capture my heart. I loved seeing children dressed up for Halloween come through the line.
Home – God provides for us in the littlest details, from food to money. I need to do some re-organizing in my kitchen. I want to try a new recipe I saw in the newspaper. It involves pumpkin, garlic, stuffing, and sounds delicious.
Health – We continue to deal with Matt’s chronic illness. Often it is hard and overwhelming. Other times it is like nothing is wrong, and we can enjoy life. It has invaded every aspect of our life. My own anxiety is often on over drive being worried about him all the time. We do try to do things to make memories.
Friendships – I have several friends who have been blessings to me. Some have moved long distance, yet we keep in touch via email and facebook. I have some local in skin friends, they are such an encouragement to me. Friendships help me grow and remain grounded in Christ.
#Spiritual Whitespace – I love young children! Anyone who knows me knows this. I have several friends who share theirs. The Twinados are two wonderful twins, David and Nora. You can read more here: http://jretedrick.wordpress.com Spending time with them is a breath of fresh air to my soul. They came through my line and mommy was trying to get them to say my name. Every time my name was said, Nora, would turn and look at me and point to me. She knew who I was!
The week before the Women’s Retreat full panic mode had set in. I did not want to be there. I should just cancel. Let someone else be blessed. Through some journaling, I figured out what was triggering me unintentionally. Feelings of being dismissed and insignificant to those around me, especially on the team I was placed.
Julie Rose, Dani, and Jenni were not in my group, however, the three off them knew what was going on. Dani, Julie Rose, and I had come up with a plan to go to prayer room if I was being overwhelmed with panic. Knowing the plan ahead helped. That first night I still questioned why I had decided to walk into my fear, instead of hiding or running from it. I was rooming with Julie Rose and Jenni, friends who knew me well. I told myself I could do this and l would be OK.
Another fear I had, was leaving my husband and his chronic illness. Would he be ok? What if something happens?
There was spotty coverage for cell phones.
I did wake up in middle of night panicking is he all right? I went out to lobby of dorm room and managed to have a signal. I called Matt and talked to him at 5am. He was fine and I went back to sleep.
Later one of my biggest fears happened. Someone came running up to me with message to call C at Wal-Mart. (Matt is working day cashier now, and C, is a manager.) I ran to where I had cell coverage earlier and I had none at that time. Even though I was crying, I kept trying. Others saw me trying, so people got out phones and finally something was ringing. I got a hold of Wal-Mart and C wasn’t there. The operator was friend, who knew of Matt’s health issues. She asked if Matt was working. She found someone who knew what was up. Matt’s heart issues had happened and he had passed out. I called home he had just been driven home by C. I called Matt, hearing his voice, something inside me broke open. He told me to stay at the retreat because he did not want to be a bother.
I couldn’t hold it together any more hearing Matt’s voice and wondered if I should go home. Pure panic and tears. 4 ladies gathered around and prayed. I couldn’t decide what to do. Jenni was there offering to take me home. She told never mind what Matt wanted, what did I want. She gave me permission to figure out what l needed, not what others were telling me to do.
I went to prayer room, sitting and praying and laid out crying forever it seems. Laid it all at God’s feet, giving up control once again. God showed up in amazing way! I left with peace went back to hear the conference speaker.
At the end of this session, we wrote something we struggled with, took it to the altar and tore the paper to pieces. I wrote one word: CONTROL! I had peace the rest of the conference. I did phone calls to check on Matt the rest of the day and we were going home that night. I continued to have peace the rest of the day.
I keep remembering a Larry Crabb quote, “Pain is your friend.”
I think I get it finally at least a little bit. Without the fear and pain and walking into it, then I would not have experienced God in such a big way this weekend.
I see Him in all the little details. How did ladies know to tell me to call work? How did some else have cell coverage when I did not? The first manager on sence when the ambulance was called had known my husband for 13 years and had worked with me the last year I was in the bakery, so he knew details of Matt’s health that another would not have known. K, saw it was my husband, so went to another friend, J, and said we need to get a hold of Katie. J knew I was out-of-town and texted a mutual friend on the retreat with me. I understand how ladies knew to tell me to call Wal-Mart now.
There was lots of fun and games. There was time to enjoy the fall colors and a bonfire. I had time to talk to friends. Yet as much as I enjoyed those times, true Spiritual Whitespace came through pain. God is in the details. In skin friends were there. God is with me in the pain and fear. Breaking down, being real and vulnerable, I was not alone, He was there. Spiritual Whitespace was found in the midst of it all.
How do you know if you heard God or if you missed it all together? I tried something new to me. It was outside my comfortzone. I offered to lead Bible study. I was safe snd comfortable in my recovery group as a leader. Why try something new?
I love the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace:Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. I have thought about doing this study since before I received the book. Bonnie is my friend. I dismissed this idea though because I did not want to go out of my comfortzone. After reading the her book, correction, devoured her book, I read her book two more times. I still dismissed the small voice inside me, others need spiritual rest too. But then I saw the invite from the Women’s Ministry Leader, asking someone to step out of there comfortzone. I knew God was saying it was me they were talking to. I said yes. I stepped out of my recovery group leadership.
It came to the first night, three ladies showed up. We got started. Slowly for their own reasons they dropped out, until it was me and one other. I called her and asked what she wanted to do,out o respect for her and her time. I would be more than willing to continue, but it was decided to stop the group.
Did I fail God? Did I even hear him right? Where are you in a dissolved Bible study?
I called a friend to share my grief with. She pointed out that I had courage to step out in faith. I shared with another friend, she pointed out often when called to lead a study it is because she needs it, not others.
I let Bonnie know also. She reminded me of the list of those who were called faithful in Hebrews, stumbled and did not see the results. I am still sad it is over. I still fight feelings of failure.
God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good.
I trust now that I chose to follow Him. The results were up to Him.
Do you struggle with knowing you heard God? I do. You are not alone. Read Hebrews 11.