Journey…

…through life…through grief…through healing…

I have been reflecting on the journey through grief again.  It hits me every year!  Maybe this year especially, I am reflecting early because our second baby is due to be born in 6-7 weeks.  6 weeks from now is the anniversary date of my sister’s death.  Am I willing to share this momentously tragic day with one of the greatest joys of my life?  I don’t know if I am ready.

Thus I reflect on the journey through the land of grief.  Sometimes I feel like Grief’s borders gerrymander around the towns of Joy, Peace, Trust…you get the idea, right?  I can be in a place of Trusting my God, of being at Peace with where I am and how far I have come, and then BOOM!  Grief.  How did I end up back here??!!!?

Thankfully, it does not happen as frequently as it has in the past.  But the scars are real.  I know I have written before about the scars.  Not one of us is injury free, right?  Whether that injury is physical or emotional, we all have scars.  We all have experienced the annoyance of cuts and wounds as they heal.  They itch.  They get infected.  They eventually heal and fade, and yet the scar remains.  And then, years later, that scar is itchy, irritated, inflamed.  Why???  I thought this was healed!!!  We are reminded of that experience because of the irritation that is present.

The same is true for our emotional scars, especially those gained through grief.  We “feel” healed, those around us tell us we should be healed, and then the irritation/tears begin all over again.  Something as simple as a song, a memory, a phrase can trigger it.  Unless someone else has experienced this as well, others don’t seem to understand.  They get frustrated that we have entered back into the town of Grief.

Each time i find myself back there though, I learn and grow even more.  I don’t get lost on the streets like I used to.  The glow from Peace, Joy, and Trust do not fade like they did before.  So I can leave just as quickly as I came.  That is part of healing.  I am no longer stuck in Grief.  Yes, it sneaks up on me.  But it no longer owns me.  And in hindsight, it never did.  The journey of Grief, though unexpected many times, is an opportunity to reflect once the grips of Depression have been released.  When we find ourselves in Grief and can quickly walk back to the surrounding towns, that is when we know healing has taken place.  Yes, the triggers remain.  However, the intensity of that trigger does not have the power it once did.

Verses for reflection:  Psalm 401 Peter 5

Thoughts on Diabetes…

So after reading Diabetes Burnout this year, battling depression, getting pregnant, having all those medical “discussions” with a variety of doctors and specialists, it has been a rough 6-7 months!  However, in that same time period, I have really been noticing that when I take the time to care for my body, things go so much more smoothly!

In January, my A1c was 8.8.  By May 1, it was 8.1.  Progress…I was also 7 weeks pregnant at this point.  By June 4, after fighting the medical battles, I went back on my insulin pump.  By June 12, my A1c was 6.3!!!!  HUGE progress in only a MONTH!  I saw my endo again on July 31, and found my A1c to be 6.1.  Even better.  I’ll take it!  If I can keep it around this level for the duration of my pregnancy and beyond, I will be ecstatic! 

The KEY?  Checking my glucose levels.  I am very thankful for my continuous glucose monitoring system now.  When I am not using that, I poke my poor fingers so often!  But the results are so worth it.  I have to remember to do this. 

So, after the baby is born in a few months’ time, I will need a plan in place to help me maintain this progress.  It will be challenging with an almost-2-year-old and a newborn.  But if I don’t care for myself, who will care for them?  If I am not healthy, how can I keep them healthy?  My purpose and focus no longer include just me.  This is for me, for my family, for our future family. 

So I will keep fighting.  I will keep praying for provision to pay our bills, including all the medical bills.  I am thankful the Lord has brought us thus far.  And I know He will continue to take us further.  So I will walk this road in faith, knowing I truly do NOT walk alone.

Diabetic and 2nd trimester with baby #2

So, being diabetic (type 1) is challenging.  Add in pregnancy, and I go into hyper mode!

So I am 14 weeks pregnant.  The last 10 weeks have been challenging in getting situated with doctors.  I think I blogged earlier about my frustrating encounter with a “specialist” here in town?  If not, I can’t go into it.  I was FURIOUS and really did not respond well.

Needless to say, I took my care into my own hands for a short while before reconnecting with a doctor almost 3 hours north of us.  In that time, I was able to bring my A1c from an 8.1 down to a 6.3!!!!!  Do you know how happy I was?????  This revealed to me that I really do know HOW to take care of myself.  I just need MOTIVATION to continue to take care of myself!

Right now, that motivation is obvious:  I want this baby to be healthy!  I know I need to be healthy to help baby be healthy!

Post-birth, the first few months are obviously motivating as well:  stay healthy so I can take care of baby.  Then…life gets overwhelming.

So I ask, please pray for me throughout this pregnancy.  Pray for me come December (baby is due December 18, but will join us around December 11) that I can balance a newborn, a 23-month-old, and my health!  Pray for our finances so that I will be able to maintain using the insulin pump that is so beneficial for helping me monitor my glucose levels and insulin dosages 24 hours a day!

Pray for my emotional well-being.  I have struggled with Depression on and off the last decade or so, and know that will hit me hard after the baby comes.  Pray that I am diligent in awareness of red flags and triggers, and will get help right away as soon as I suspect those triggers are creeping in again.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work with my endocrinologist, will meet the new “specialist” that is an hour away, will be seeing my OB twice a month, and will be preparing our home for the arrival of baby #2.  Thankfully, I have a couple weeks off of work so that I can start to tackle these projects and plan out my schedule for when I do go to back to work (Seriously, I just typed “go back to bed…” think I am tired????).

As challenging as it is to live with type 1 diabetes, I am thankful for the care and provision the Lord brings.  I know this illness has been a part of developing me into who I am today, and so I press on.  Maybe, some day, there will be a cure.  Or a long-term fix easier than an insulin pump.  I am reading of more and more bionic pancreas operations and options, so hopefully those become more mainstream and affordable!  We shall see!

Lies Women Believe, Chapters 10 and 11

I am finally on the last two chapters of this book!  It has taken me a while to get here, and I have had a lot of distractions!  My next adventure is Fit For Your Assignment, and I will blog my way through that book as well.

Chapter 10 is called “Countering Lies With the Truth” and Chapter 11 is called “The Truth That Sets us Free.”

If we are to truly KNOW truth, we must start with “What is truth?” or rather, WHO is TRUTH?  Jesus himself speaks in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...”

He alone IS TRUTH.  He does not tell us, “live this way so that…” or “You must obey these rules.”  He says, “Come to the Father THROUGH ME.”  That’s it.  Once we have that relationship with Him, then He begins to reveal His Truth to us through His Word.  To the unbeliever, the Bible is words on a page.  To those who truly follow Christ, though, this Book is His Word, His Truth.

I do want to quote this paragraph on page 252:  “The idea of ‘turning sinners from the error of their way’ is largely foreign in our day.  The hue and cry of our postmodern culture is ‘tolerance,’ which means:  ‘You can live however you want to live, but don’t try to tell me what’s right for me–it’s none of your business how I choose to live my life.’  As deception has inundated our culture, many believers have become hesitant to stand for the Truth, for fear of being labeled as intolerant or narrow-minded.”

I will say that in order for unbelievers to turn, we have to KNOW we are sinners.  Scripture says there is not one of us who is without sin, apart from Christ Himself.  To the unbeliever, I don’t think it works to walk around and say, “You know, that behavior/action/choice/way of life/book you are reading/show you are watching/etc. is sinful.  You should stop.”  I feel like there is more approachable-ness when I am aware of my own shortcomings and acknowledge that we are ALL sinners, big and small, myself included.  I can share how God has worked in my life and revealed His Truth and my sin through His Spirit.  It is up to the Spirit to reveal each of our sins to us individually.  God is not one to publicly shame us.  He will speak to you, and to me, in ways we can receive His messages.

I do agree with Nancy’s perception of our culture.  I think it is even more evident today than it was when the book was first written in 1991.  To the believers, though, I think that we do need to, in groups of 2-3, come alongside and talk of the Truth.  This should be done with great care and love, and as free from judgement as possible.  Even better, have someone in the group who has walked that path before share his/her personal struggle with the lies and the ultimate Truth that set him/her free!  It is so much easier to accept and follow the truth when we have people to come alongside us and walk it with us.

Chapter 11 has 22 Truths that Nancy clings to as she walks her life path.  Here they are:

1.  God is good (Psalm 119:68; Psalm 136:1)

2.  God loves me and wants me to have His best (Romans 8:32, 38-39)

3.  I am complete and accepted in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6)

4.  God is enough (Psalm 23:1)

5.  God can be trusted (Isaiah 28:16; Hebrews 13:5)

6.  God doesn’t make any mistakes (Isaiah 46:10)

7.  God’s grace is sufficient for me(2 Corinthians 12:9)

8.  The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover any sin(1 John 1:7)

9.  The Cross of Christ is sufficient to conquer my sinful flesh (Romans 6:6-7)

10.  My past does not have to plague me (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

11.  God’s Word is sufficient to lead me, teach me, and heal me (Psalm 19:7; Psalm 107:20; Psalm 119:105)

12.  Through the power of His Holy Spirit, God will enable me ot do anything He commands me to do (1 Thessalonians 5:24; Philippians 2:13)

13.  I am responsible before God for my behavior, responses, and choices (Ezekiel 18:19-22)

14.  I will reap whatever I sow (Galatians 6:7-8)

15.  The pathway to true joy is to relinquish control (Matthew 16:25; Luke 1:38; 1 Peter 5:7)

16.  The greatest freedom I can experience is found through submission to God-ordained authority (Ephesians 5:21)

17.  In the will of God, there is no higher, holier calling than to be a wife and mother (Titus 2:4-5)

18.  Personal holiness is more important than temporal happiness (Ephesians 5:26-27)

19.  God is more concerned about changing me and glorifying Himself than about solving my problems (Romans 8:29)

20.  It is impossible to be godly without suffering (1 Peter 5:10)

21.  My suffering will not last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

22.  It’s now about me; it’s all about Him (Colossians 1:16-18)

Take time to reflect on these truths and the verses that highlight them in scripture.  Seek out more passages of scripture that solidify these truths for you!  I challenge you!  And, feel free to comment with verses you come across that reveal His Truth to you even more!

Just a random update…

It has been a while since I have written, so I thought I would just give you all some updates.

 

So, in reading Lies Women Believe, I have to say I have failed miserably the tests I have faced recently of these lies in my life.  I have not been able to control my emotions, and I have let my temper get the better of me on more than one occasion.  Stress has been impacting me in some very negative ways.

But there has been some good that has come out of this too.  God has given me peace in the midst of the emotional turmoil.  Though I have felt justified in my responses, I know I did not act appropriately.  The outcome has been good in the long run, though, and for this, I am very thankful for God’s grace.

 

I had some issues with a doctor’s office here in town.  We had some major miscommunications, and I felt belittled and my concerns and issues were not addressed by them.  Instead of trying to work through the issues, I had a few outbursts.  Blame it on pregnancy hormones or stress, it does not matter.  I have since refused to be under their care, and am now working with a doctor three hours away from me.  This doctor I have seen before, and am very pleased with her understanding and insight.

Now, the validation to my concerns has come, as I have seen improvement in my care even while I was monitoring my own medication and glucose levels while I was between doctors.  I am thankful for the insight God has given me to my body’s needs!  I am ever thankful for His provision for allowing me to work with the best doctors now, and to FINALLY be back on my insulin pump.  Already, I am seeing drastic improvements even after 24 hours.  Thank you, Lord!

Now, my biggest prayer request is for that of the baby growing within.  With the delay of going back on the pump, and the stress-induced blood sugar swings, there are higher risks for some complications with baby’s heart.  Please, pray that there are no lasting effects of my blood sugars on this precious baby!  We’ll know more in a month or two after we have a fetal echo test done, but I know our God is greater than any physician.  He has the ability to knit together a perfect heart, perfect lungs, perfect kidneys, etc. in this child.

He did this for Zander, and I know He can do it again.  If He chooses not to, I know I have to prepare for that.  He is the great Physician, though, and I trust Him.  In all things, I must trust Him.

In the meantime, though, will you lift me up in prayer, and lift this pregnancy and baby up in prayer?  We’re 12 weeks today!  I can’t believe we’re almost a third of the way through already!  Time flies!  And, thank you for praying!

Lies Women Believe: Chapter 9

Lies Women Believe…about Circumstances!

Boy, did this one hit me hard!  I am struggling this month.  Hormones are raging, tempers flaring, and communication hindered because of both of those!  You think I would have learned after Chapter 8 about my response to my emotions, right???  Well…welcome to the first trimester of pregnancy.  Yep!  almost 11 weeks pregnant today!  And really struggling with controlling my blood sugar levels….

…and frustrated that I have to wait a little bit longer to go back on my insulin pump…

…and frustrated with the lack of communication from doctors and nurses…

And yet, it is a 3-day weekend where we are supposed to be remembering our fallen soldiers and thanking those who have fought for our freedoms.  I need a perspective shift.

Since reading Chapter 9, I have been a teary mess!  Thinking about my brothers, cousins, uncles, and grandfather who have been in and out of the military, facing battle, or just keeping the peace…I am honored that they have risen to the call of our nation, and grateful for their acts of service.

So, with this new perspective shift, let’s dive into the lies and truth found in Chapter 9 of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book.

Lie #36:  If my circumstances were different, I would be different.

Truth #36:  Man, I have thought about this one A LOT over the years!  If only I weren’t diabetic… If only my sister had waited one more day for me to come home… If only I had not gone on that missions trip… If only…

The vicious What If cycle can eat you alive!

A lot of these “if only’s” and “what if’s” I have dwelt upon over the years have to do with my sister’s death by suicide.  I blamed myself for a very long time, and was trapped in depression because of it.

Then, one day, I heard my former Youth Leader speak a message at church about “What if’s.”  He blew my perspective out of the water!  I had been dwelling on the negative “what if’s!”

What if…God has a plan for my life through this pain?

What if…God is glorified through this disease He has allowed me to have?

What if…it is not about my feelings and emotions?

What if…God really does make beauty from ashes?

What if…my circumstances have strengthened me, built my faith, and allowed me to draw closer to my creator, my shelter, my fortress, and my God?

In that moment, I began to realize that if my circumstances, I really would be different…but NOT for the better.  My faith would not be what it is, and I would not be who I am.  And who I am is a beautiful daughter of the King of kings, who seeks to honor and glorify Him to the best of my ability, who frequently falls into His arms seeking forgiveness and wisdom, who stumbles and grows ever closer to Him.

God has allowed me these circumstances to teach me, to comfort me, to be my strength in the midst of my weaknesses.  This is all over scripture!  Take a look at these passages:

Job 1:8-12   And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Romans 8  in its entirety speaks to this truth.  Verses 37-38 bring me the most comfort:  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were  formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God KNOWS.  He KNEW all these things would happen to me.  And yet, nothing can separate me from Him.  He knows, and He is there, and He LOVES me through my circumstances!  We have a God who has experienced pain and suffering, even death and grief.  He knows my pain, past, present, and future.  I have found much peace in that.

 

Lie #37:  I shouldn’t have to suffer.

Truth #37:  So why does God allow me these circumstances of suffering?  Another question is, “Why not allow these circumstances?”

Scripture never once promises us a life free from suffering.  In fact, Christ and the disciples often write about suffering!  My Savior suffered the deepest pain and humiliation known to man when he was whipped, beaten, despised, ridiculed, crucified, and taunted while he died.  Three days later, He ROSE from the grave and CONQUERED death!  But if my own Savior willingly suffered for ME, why would I think myself above suffering?  Am I willing to suffer for HIS sake?  Even then, suffering in America is an easy life compared to suffering in other countries.  I am not facing death because of my beliefs.  I have a chronic illness that is treatable with insulin and glucose monitoring.  Easy compared to stoning, rejection, and death because of faith in Jesus.  Perspective is everything.

Passages of Scripture about suffering:

Romans 5:3-5  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

1 Peter 4 says A LOT about suffering.  Verses 12 and 13 really speak to the heart of what it means to suffer though:  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Isaiah 43:2  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,and the flame shall not consume you.

 

Lie #38:  My circumstances will never change–This will go on FOREVER (as I visualize the face of one of the boys from The Sandlot…)

Truth #38:  I cling to the truth that God’s timing is perfect.  I will not always understand why suffering endures as long as it does, or why illnesses last as long as they do.  But I know my God is sovereign.  In comparison to Eternity, these fleeting moments of pain and trial are just that:  fleeting.  Temporary.  A blip on the timeline.  This does not make the immediate moment easier.  However, that truth allows my perspective to adapt.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  Do not lose heart!  This momentary affliction will pass away.  

 

Lie #39:  I just can’t take it anymore!

Truth #39:  Raise your hand if you have ever said this!  I just raised BOTH my hands.  Yep, we frequently find this phrase slipping from our mouths, right?

In these moments, I am reminded of my weakness.  I can’t do this…on my own.  But with the Grace of God, I can endure with HIS strength.

Take a look at some more passages from 2 Corinthians:

11:21-30

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?  If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

The man who wrote this passage is a man who once persecuted and killed people who claimed to be Christians.  And here, he has endured HOW much for the sake of Christ?  And I throw my hands up when my son cries for two hours!  I am so weak…

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is a passage I have referred to often in my blog.  Read it once again:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 130 is another great description of waiting through the suffering, of enduring and trusting in the Lord.

 

Lie #40:  It’s all about ME.

Truth #40:  It’s all about GOD.  Who am I, to think myself greater than the creator of the universe???  Who am I, to think that my issues require more attention than another person?  For we are all equals in the eyes of God, and we are all subject to His authority.  Nothing exists apart from what God allows.

Colossians 1:15-23 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

This truth really put my frustration with my doctors into perspective.  God gives me peace, words, and wisdom.  I will trust in Him and in His timing for this.