I have history. Three quarantines in the last fifteen years. All for health reasons. I remember a weird state of not being able to come and go as I please. Of having to depend upon others to leave me food or necessities. For more than two weeks the telly was my bestie showing me what I was missing. Brilliant ideas popped into my head of how to spend my time. Ideas that always required a little more of something unavailable. So I adapted and stayed put in my newfound reality. My freedom felt lost and there was a glimmer of what it might feel like to be Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty before the prince.
In the real world constant social activity impacts my day. My quarantines were a huge adjustment and to fill the void I talked. I replaced talking with clients/friends to talking with my Lord. Inevitably it changed the way I pray. No more formal prayers. I just didn’t feel up to it. But talking, yep I could do that! And so I did. We talked about shows on tv, the weather, my friends, food, the news, my health, the state of the wide world, the state of my immediate world, books, relationships, plants, home improvement, goals, my fears, my frustrations. The joys of family, of friendships, of the ability to pray without ceasing.
It was at this time that I gained an understanding of what without ceasing really looked like. How it was actually possible. It wasn’t my constant flow of words or a physical posture. It was my constant knowledge that I was never alone. An awareness that as a Believer I am forever connected to the Creator of the universe. I realized that praying without ceasing is an attitude, a state of mind, a condition of my heart. And this opened up my world in a way I had never imagined. It prepared me for such a time as this.
And so I find myself in quarantine number four. It is in many ways different because it is a self-quarantine. I can come and go, it is just advisable not to. Many businesses are closed and there is a crazy hoarding situation going on. It is a good time to step back and count my blessings. I have many friends and family to check on as well as check on me. I have a home with many projects to fill my time or projects that can wait. I can do without the things that some feel they must stock pile, so I will not cause hardships on others. Right at this moment my needs are met. I am in relationship with a God that speaks and listens without ceasing. I am blessed. My God and I have history.
Just this week two friends expressed the desire to be more prayerful which inspired some random thoughts on prayer…
A quick glance at social media and you’ll see all kinds of requests and promises for prayers. It is really astonishing at how quickly you can post a need and have a response. It sure beats the old prayer chain of calling person A who then calls B who in turn calls C. Wonderful if everyone is actually praying….
Have you ever prayed not expecting an answer, but prayed anyway? Guilty. Or prayed so long for someone/something that it turns into a habit without any real expectation? Guilty. Promised someone you would pray for them and didn’t? Guilty. Or prayed for a change that you weren’t really committed to? You know, the commonly prayed help me lose weight but please just let it fall offbecause I am not really committed to do anything differently. Huh, guilty. Was my words empty, my faith weak or is it really just too difficult to pray correctly…
I remember the first time spiritually mature me prayed for God’s will in a situation. Someone close to me died. That was not how I wanted my prayer answered and my spiritual maturity was revealed to be an illusion. I had prayed for God’s will because that is what I was supposed to pray. I learned that my heart wasn’t quite there yet. It was a tough lesson that took awhile to recover from…
Praying should be the easiest thing we ever do. Like most things spiritual we make it complicated. We want a recipe to confirm we are doing it right. If it doesn’t come out correctly we assume something went wrong. For years I had an old unfortunate oven. Every time I tried to bake something it turned out unpleasant. I almost gave up on baking…
Frequently our long prayed prayers change. We begin to see things differently. Our words cease to focus inward. They begin to look outward and eventually up. I am ever amazed at how prayers involving physical heaping hot coals evolves into a prayer for spiritual salvation. This is the Holy Spirit at His finest. When our hearts change and our situation has not. When it happens so quietly that we can’t pinpoint exactly when the transition occurred…
I have lately experienced much answered prayer. My health is stable. My work is a joy. I can say that life is good. That is when my prayers get more focused on worship and praise. I will always have needs. Always concerns. My heart just has time to reflect and meditate on my Lord. We are called to pray continually. That is a lifestyle I would love to live…
No one this week told me they were praying too much and needed to cut back. Or that they have developed a bad prayer habit and must stop cold turkey. Never have I been asked to participate in a prayer intervention or had to avoid a situation where too much prayer was going on. Like my friends I desire more…
There are things that happen in your lifetime that you know will leave you forever changed. My big three are my salvation, the death of my dad and the diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism. The first two are obvious and the last is obscure to most. Each enter my mind daily. For my salvation I am more grateful than I can ever express. Death is something we all experience and must deal with. Hypopara is an ongoing ever-changing pain in the you-know-where. Most people, including medical professionals just don’t understand exactly what hypopara is. It is not a common nor simple condition. Mine was medically induced in 2005. The first night home after my thyroidectomy I awoke in the middle of the night to numb hands, feet and face. This was much more than Mark-was-laying-on-my-feet and they went to sleep. I soon realized that this was on my list of oh-no symptoms. I spent the next couple of days in the hospital/doctors office receiving calcium intravenously. I was told my body could not absorb calcium and I would need to take it daily to keep my levels up. If it only was that simple!
The next several years was a lesson in being in charge of my own health. A lesson on the importance of education, discipline, transparency, perseverance and joy in my circumstances. Hypopara is a rare incurable condition that some people are born with while others are medically induced after damage to the parathyroid glands. These little fellas regulate parathyroid hormone PTH and can lead to decreased blood levels of calcium and increased levels of blood phosphorus. If I am low my first indicator is numb tingly hands and feet while feeling sluggish and fuzzy brained. Fuzzy brain causes me to not be on top of my needs therefore I can be slow to treat my symptoms. Officially it causes tingling or burning in your fingertips, toes and lips. Muscle aches and cramps in legs, feet, abdomen or face. Twitching or spasms of muscles. Fatigue or weakness. Painful menstruation. Patchy hair loss. Dry, coarse skin. brittle nails. Depression or anxiety. Phew! I feel anxious just thinking about it.
Everyday is a game of defense. I don’t leave the house without my meds. Everything I eat or do contributes to my condition. Stress and processed foods are my enemy. On my best days stress is low, I get enough sleep and exercise, eat real food and take my meds correctly. It isn’t easy to be me. Well, the healthy version of me. One thing I have learned is the diligence is worth it! People often say to me, “Oh, I don’t want to take medication” “I could never change my eating habits” “I don’t have enough time to (fill in the blank)” I can identify because I feel the same way, it just isn’t my reality.
Game changing is something we can count on in our lifetime. I just don’t know how people do it without Jesus. There are days I barely do it with Him! My big three will never change but I have changed. All I have experienced has made my faith stronger and my dependence upon my Lord more. I don’t want my life to be difficult but on some days it is. My identity isn’t in my illness or my life situation. My identity is in my Savior. My salvation is what changed my game.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? A full fledged throw away your crutches miracle. A there-is-no-way-that-could-be-possible miracle. The word gets tossed around these days creating a blur between what is real and what is entertainment. We grow increasingly numb to that which is sensational and in the broadness of our reality things get really small. Our worldview gets limited to the world we think we know. Things can be explained away or simply ignored.
So what is a miracle? Is it a miracle when I arrive safely at my destination? When someone we have issues with suddenly becomes an ally? When the sun rises in the morning? Just the words miracle healing bring forth memories of preHDTV Benny Hinn striking people with his jacket encouraging Jesus to heal on command. Was it real? Hard to say really. I know God has the power to heal through any vessel He chooses. Did a miracle take place? Hard to say. A younger me found it entertaining and slightly embarrassing.
A miracle defined is an awesome event in which God bears witness to Himself. When I consulted Scripture I realized it was beyond a quick what-does-the-Bible-say-about-miracles. Miracles appeared on page one and continued. Throughout Scripture we see amazing signs and wonders choreographed and carried out by God who does things on His own schedule in His own way. And so I ponder, have you seen a miracle?
Let me tell you about mine. First I have to say that God and I have history. A relationship formed through years of love and trust. It hasn’t been easy. I am not a gal who is easily wooed and often my attention is focused only on what is in front of me. My health has recently required a lot of attention. On top of two chronic illnesses I was diagnosed with my fourth round of Thyroid Cancer. It has been quite the ride. After a standard diagnosis Dr N sent me to Dr O sent me to Dr S sent me to Dr H sent me back to Dr S. while encountering biopsy’s, tests, consults, rejects and a failed RAI. (The last sentence was a time warp of 9 months.) No one knew exactly what to do with complicated me. All the while my prayer army battled on and the time for miracles asked was realized…
I arrive at Mayo Clinic for an evaluation and end up with aprocedure. My patient portal says I have a whole medical team. Looking back there are lots of things that just suddenly fell into place. Things that happened literallymomentbymoment. After waiting months and being tossed around I had appointments. I was complicated but doable. If I was willing they would try. The odds were in my favor that I would lose my voice, I didn’t. I was able to walk out following the procedure. This all happened within 48 hours of arriving on campus. I could sing on… making you feel like you were in a musical but I will spare you. It does make me want to sing and dance. Much like the people healed on Mr. Hinn’s tv show now that I think about it.
I don’t want to leave you with the wrong idea. I am not cured. Not yet. I go back in three months for a follow up and probably more ablation. Did a miracle take place? It is not hard to say. I have experienced an awesomeseason of events that caused me to see God more clearly. I have experienced a miracle.
I love watching American Ninja Warriors. I have enjoyed it long before it became mainstream. There is something about an obstacle course that gets my attention and causes me to see possibility. Good athletes always make a sport look effortless or at the least doable to those of us that have never done it. I secretly think I could shimy across the Bungee Bridge or any other bridge-like obstacle. I realize that anything requiring hanging or climbing would have to be worked out on the Monkey Bars at my local playground. If they could lower the 14+ foot Warped Wall to about 4 feet I would be willing to give it a try. Wouldn’t everyone?
Life can feel like one big obstacle course. This week feels like I have Twilight Zoned myself right into a test of strength, speed and agility with a side of sharing. Only lately, I feel like sitting down mid-course. Not quite giving up. Just having some quiet time to gracefully dismount instead of crashing into the water.
American Ninja Warriors are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. What we miss is how many times they hit the water. Everyone I know faces obstacles. Obstacles come in many shapes and there is no end to what can throw us off course. To make life look effortless isn’t something that comes without training. How we have trained for obstacles often determines how we handle them. What we have stored inside us surfaces to help us face the challenge in failure or victory.
My mind recalls the words I memorized years ago from an old Beth Moore bible study. I believe God is who He says He is. I believe God can do what He says He’s going to do. I believe I am who God says I am. My training isn’t without but within. Even if I sit down mid-course focused on my failure my heart knows. It isn’t my strength, speed or agility that will help me reach the buzzer. It is believing God.
I haven’t written in awhile. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say. I am seldom without words. I have been busy. To quote a friend, “I’ve got stuff to do!”. I have been camping with hubby, to the beach with a girlfriend, training for a new BSF position, working and going to doctor appointments all over the place. All this while trying to be a good wife, daughter, friend, hairstylist… well, you get the picture. It is much of what each of us is strives to do as we go through life.
After a recent study of King Solomon’s life I read through the book of Ecclesiastes and feel I am left with much to consider. I could prattle on about eternity but I must admit eternity is not what stood out to me. I know my eternity is secure. It is the daily dealing with this life that are immediate in my heart and take space in my thoughts. The never-ending quest to be in God’s will. Some days it is easy peasy choices that don’t require much thought and little sacrifice. Other days I am left looking upward (surely you do it too) and proclaiming REALLY?! When faced with the unknown I find it best to hold to what I know. My to-dos I know from Ecclesiastes is “Fear God and keep His commandments” and “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might….”
I will be going to Mayo Clinic in Florida at the end of July to receive a “second” opinion. I feel sort of like the tree in my photo. I was standing in my forest enjoying my view and suddenly a foreign limb transfixed itself into my world. So what will it take to shake off this foreign limb? An earthquake? A storm? A sympathetic wanderer? And so waits the tree, adjusting to reality while quietly hoping for an intervention. Now excuse me I’ve got stuff to do.
My sewing machine died this week. I have had her since the eighties and I wasn’t her first owner. Sewing is one of those things that many of my friends don’t realize I do. Mostly because I don’t do it often and I am not very good at it. When I have down time my brain starts dreaming up things to make and I currently seem to be focused on fabric. So out comes my seldom used sewing machine. After about a week of sewing I needed to make a bobbin and the clutch would not release. This lead me straight to the internet and long story short (smile) I broke my machine. I think I got bad advise. The sewing machine repair guy also thinks I got bad advise. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. I hate when it happens, especially when I am suffering the consequences of said advice. The internet is a bevy of information to wade through. The problem is disernment. Bad advise often makes sense or looks really appealing. But it is still bad. I have learned that knowledge is power and I just need to be careful where my knowledge comes from.
In dealing with my health I have been overloaded with information. I have pursued several options and my path has not been quick, clear or straight. I recently decided to simply wait before I proceed with any treatment for my cancer. The cancer is not in a good place to remove surgicially and Thyroid cancer is usually slow growing. It seems that God has me in a place of waiting. An action that I am getting better at. As I wait I am asking God to take away my cancer. I am taking care of the health that I have and being content in my circumstances. I researched a few sewing machines online but just couldn’t commit to a new one. A friend advised me to borrow instead of buying and I am currently trying my mom’s sewing machine. Borrowing was good advise.