Why Your Life is Like a Magic Trick

Lately, this season that my husband and I have been walking through has been long, treacherous and quite painful. We battle not only my sickness, but desires, dreams and goals that go unmet for various reasons.

In the past few weeks, we have not only been hit with a financial burden that was completely unseen, but physical struggles we weren’t expecting. Our marriage has taken the brunt and after just over a year of wedded bliss, we found ourselves unfulfilled and wishing for more.

As I sat back and analyzed all that was happening around me, I realized that quite often our conversations spoke about what we didn’t have, what we couldn’t do and where we weren’t in our lives. I heard us say “When you/I get better, we can enjoy our life for a few years, then have kids.” Or, “If only we made more money, we could have some fun.”

After several days of reflecting on these statements and the mindset behind them, they grew more and more unsettling in my heart. I realized that we, for some reason, are in a routine that says our “now” isn’t good enough.

I realized that once we get what we think will satisfy us, or go where we think will make us happy, we will always—and I mean always—be looking for more. Ecclesiasties 6:9 puts it this way: “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

Recently one morning, before my husband left for work, I stopped him in our kitchen and said “Babe. You know how when you watch a magic trick there is a magician who is trying to sneak something by you. He is doing some kind of slight-of-hand or other trick and needs you to be distracted so he can ‘pull it off’. During that moment, there is usually something huge, loud, bright, or attractive going on just feet away from him; but it draws our attention away so the trick can be completed.” I continued to explain to him that I felt like our life was a huge magic trick. There is a lot going on right now—no doubt. However, we need our focus to be diverted to something else so the “trick” can be completed.

Not only is there plenty of negatives happening, but there are just as many positives. I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time seeing them most of the time. It’s as if the positives sneak past you in camouflage while the negatives parade by in bright clothes and loud music. They stand out and stick for much longer in the recess of our memory.

What if we shifted our thinking just slightly and thought about life as a magic trick with God as the magician. He’s got this amazing “trick” He’s trying to complete, but He doesn’t want us to focus on the how, when or why.

Let me ask you this. When you watch a magic trick and the ending happens, what feeling are you left with? I don’t know about you, but I am in complete awe and stopped dead in my tracks by sheer amazement.

You see, that’s how our lives can be. It will be filled with those “awe struck” moments if we just let God do the magic trick while we divert our attention elsewhere. We need to get out of the “when things get better” or “when we are more secure financially” mindset and realize that we are living right now!

We have this imperfect—and if you’re honest—beautiful life in front of us TODAY. All we need to do is enjoy the here-and-now, stop wishing for the better tomorrow and embrace the broken today. Count your blessings, bloom where you’re planted and just enjoy the magic trick!

I’ll leave you with this. My husband and I aren’t perfect. We are the exact opposite of the newly-wed picture-perfect couple. We have our ups and we have our downs; but right now, our change is happening one day at a time, one distraction at a time and one positive at a time.

Why I’m a Christian and I Believe that Love Wins

In the past few weeks, our news channels and social media feeds have been consistently bombarded with unimaginable and terrible news. These reports vary in intensity and devastation. First, we heard of the young boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit which resulted in the shooting of the animal in order to save the boy. Then, there was recently a 22 year old singer, who was openly Christian, gunned down by a crazed fan during an innocent time of autographs and pictures following her show. The next day, a man entered a gay nightclub and shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 innocent people. He then proceeded to claim to have ties to ISIS which turned that into the largest mass shooting and the second largest terrorist attack on American soil. A few days later, a disgruntled Walmart employee in Texas decided that taking his boss and another employee hostage over a disagreement about his promotion was a wise choice. The latest tragedy brought to the public’s knowledge was the 2 year old boy grabbed and drowned by an alligator while he and his family vacationed at Disney World. All of this tragic news surfaced amidst the already unsettling daily news of crime, corruption and deceit. It becomes a noisy intrusion on your attempt for peace and joy in life.

As I write this article, I am in no way minimizing the gravity of the situations that have arose; however, as if the news itself wasn’t horrible enough, we are consistently bombarded by opinions from people who fail to think before they speak- people who were in no way apart of the situations. It’s extremely easy for someone sitting in the peace and safety of their own home, behind a computer screen, to profess to know exactly what happened and how they would react in each situation. The truth is, I don’t know how I would react in a volatile circumstance such as an active shooter situation. I’m not a mom, yet, so I don’t know how easy it is to turn your back for 5 seconds only to find that your child is in the grasp of a deadly animal. I do, however have sympathy for the people involved in these situations.

Unfortunately, there are Christians who speak lies and words of criticism that are so far from Christ-like and in turn they are skewing the reality of what Christ’s love truly is. The phrase “Love Wins” has become ever-so popular by the gay community in an effort to gain acceptance for gay marriages. As a Christian, I too believe that “Love Wins”- just in a different context than its initial intention. I believe that as Christians, we are to love in order to win others for Christ. Spewing hate only creates a lack of respect and integrity for all who call themselves Christians. I do not agree with the gay lifestyle, however, if I claim to be a Christian (which is in fact a “little Christ”), then I need to learn from how HE responded.

Romans 5:8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Let’s take a look at the story told in the book of Luke about the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan; and in the Bible times, the Samaritans were the worst of the worst, yet Jesus went out of His way to show love and to minister to the Samaritan woman! Just like you and I, she was a sinner. She had multiple husbands and lived a life that was driven by her fleshly desires. If He could extend that love and mercy to a woman with a past like hers, why is it so difficult for us to love others with as much compassion and mercy as Christ? We are ALL sinners, we just sin in different ways. Why do we possess a mentality of such entitlement that we imagine that somehow we are better because we are in straight marriages? Or how can we believe for a moment that we deserve God’s love any more than the ones who are in a gay marriage? It’s time Christians start acting like Christ and adopting the “Love Wins” mentality!

To the moms who suffered criticism and hatred because for a split second you let your child out of your sight and a tragedy ensued- I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your tragedy happened in the spot light and that there are a plethora of nasty accusations aimed your way. Like I said earlier, I am not a mother so I have not experienced how fast they can escape your view. No one else was in your position at that moment. No one else has any right to criticize you or your parenting abilities. The only thing you deserve is our prayers and kindness.

To the people who are being blamed for not thwarting a senseless attack on many, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that from the comfort of our homes, behind our keyboards with no accountability or thought given regarding your feelings, our initial response is to criticize you. We cannot begin to imagine the fear that gripped your body, the realization that this might be the end for you, or the pain your body may have been in. I’m sorry that instead of prayers and love, people focus more on your sexual orientation. I am glad that you survived the horrendous actions of that man and I am sorry that Christianity is now skewed in your mind. Please recognize that not all Christians hate. God loves you, and so do I!

To the people who commit the heinous act of cyber bullying-  I urge you to imagine that the tragedy you are referring to, happened to you. Walk for just a moment in their shoes and then re-read your comment. Would you want to read that if you were truly in their position? How can you really be sure that you would be brave enough to tackle the shooter in a moment of darkness and utter chaos? What would you do? The answer is probably the same as mine- I don’t actually know! Imagine that you just received the news that your beautiful two year old son’s body was just recovered from the bottom of the lake. Would you want to be accused of being a horrible parent? No! No human being wants to be criticized in the face of tragedy!

So, it’s time we stop hiding behind the screen and accusing others of not acting in what seems to us as an “easy” manner and remember that love does in fact win!

An Open Letter To Everyone Who Suffers from my Chronic Illnesses

I am addressing this letter to each person in my life who does not personally suffer from chronic illness, but does suffer from the effects of mine. You cannot begin to understand the amount of guilt I carry because I have imposed on your life in ways that are not fair to any of you. Each person that I encounter on a daily or weekly basis is very instrumental in the journey I travel. Please take each word you read, hear my heart behind them and grasp the depth of my appreciation and apologies.


To my loving parents— I am so sorry for putting you through the years of pain, heartache and frustration as we faced the unknown monster of my health. None of us chose this life, but the amazing thing is that you still chose to love me anyway. I am sorry for the added expense, the weeks in the hospital, the late nights awake with me at home, and the hundreds of buckets of puke you’ve so graciously dumped for me. I need you to know that not only am I sorry for all the times you missed out on what you wanted to do because of me, but I also appreciate the sacrifices you have made for me. Thank you for being an example of how to handle struggles with grace and patience. I love you, and please- don’t give up on me!

To my dear husband— I am so sorry that you have to live through this unpleasant journey as well. The main difference between us is that I didn’t choose it, but you did, and I love and respect you even more for that. I am so sorry that I can’t always live up to your expectations of an active and fit lifestyle, I’m sorry that I can’t meet your “needs” each time you desire, I’m sorry that I cry and talk about how I feel often. I want you to know that I feel guilty on a daily basis for putting you through it all, but I also want to thank you for caring about my feelings both physically and emotionally. Thank you for attempting to learn all of the medical vernacular and gibberish that I already know like the back of my hand. Thank you for picking up the slack with the housework and doing so with a smile! Thank you for giving me something to wake up for and believing in me when I don’t believe in myself. And thank you for tackling this beast with me, hand in hand and heart in heart. I love you and please- don’t give up on me!

To my friends and family near and far— I am so sorry for the countless times I have needed to cancel our plans at the last-minute or for the periods of time that I have essentially fallen off the face of the earth. I want you to know that I feel embarrassed every time that situation transpires and it’s my prayer that you don’t assume that I am flaky or that I do not care about you or our friendship. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Honestly, there are instances where I can’t even muster enough energy or brain power to complete priority tasks, much less the things I would enjoy doing. With that said, thank you for the love and support, the care and concern and all of the understanding, and please- don’t give up on me!

To my boss and coworkers– I am well aware that it’s difficult and inconvenient for you and your work load when I am forced to randomly miss days of work without any warning. I hate it just as much as you (if not more) and I am truly sorry. I need you to understand that I can honestly say that I would rather be at work than at home because I am terribly ill or in the hospital hooked up to machines and medicine. (In case you don’t believe me, or understand the gravity of my situation please read my other post entitled When your Chronic Illness Flares and Doesn’t Ask Your Permission). With that said, please don’t consider me to be unreliable or assume that I am simply skipping out. I am extremely thankful that I can rely on you to pick up the slack on the days that I am absent. It’s tremendously helpful to be assured that my duties are covered so I have the ability to rest and recover. The guilt I carry for putting my burdens on your shoulders as well is enormous, but I appreciate your care and concern when I return, and please- don’t give up on me!

To my amazing doctor— Thank you for believing me! Thank you for investing time and care into my frequent visits to your office. Thank you for calling me on holidays to check on my progress since you just started me on a new medication. Thank you for thinking of me when you hear of new medications, treatments, tests or therapies. I can’t begin to adequately express my gratitude for you and the investment you have made into my health and recovery. Thank you for changing my life! We both are well aware that I have an intricate body and my case is extremely puzzling at times, but please- don’t give up on me!


I recognize that there are plenty of people who experience the exact emotions as I do and wish to portray those feelings to the people closest to them. I pray that this letter be a voice for those who are unable to express it themselves. I ask for all of you, whether I know you or not, please don’t give up on us! We hurt in ways you can’t imagine, and we are well aware that you hurt in your own way as well. We appreciate all you do and wouldn’t be where we are without your love, care and sacrifice on our behalf! So, again, thank you!

 

Are you wasting your tears?

If you know me at all, then you are well aware that I am pretty much able to cry on command. With that said, it’s obvious that I definitely have more of an emotional type of personality, and inevitably, over the years, I have shed countless tears for a multitude of reasons. Crying is a natural occurrence in the human life. We cry because we’re happy, sad, tired or while we’re watching that new viral cat video online.

Last night during a worship service at my church, we sang a song by Gateway Worship called “We Bow Low”.

We bow low, we bow low
Faces down to the ground in Your presence Lord
With our tears we wash Your feet
We bow low, we bow low
Falling on our knees
We bow low, we bow low
To the King of Kings

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy are You Lord forevermore

It was during that personal moment with God that He asked me a question.

“Are you wasting your tears?”

At first I wasn’t sure what He meant, but as I pondered that question throughout the night I realized that at times, I have!

In the book of Luke, there’s an account given of a woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. She was a sinner, yet she knew who He was and that He was holy and deserving of her everything- even her tears.

Luke 7:37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Do we treat Jesus with that amount of reverence and respect? I’m not saying that it’s wrong to laugh so hard that you cry or even that it’s wrong to cry when you’re sad or hurting. I am suggesting, however, that when we do shed tears in our darkest moments that it should be our first instinct to stop and kneel before God and turn the tears from agony and self-pity to a realization and reverence for the only One that can actually do anything about the giants we face.

Another song I love by Laura Story is called “Blessings”. The lyrics speak of healing and power that comes through difficulties and tears.

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I know how challenging it can be to not view our difficulties as unmovable mountains. In our flesh, the giants of sickness, loss, heartbreak and financial burdens can often overshadow the power, strength and love of our Father. It’s imperative that we don’t miss out on the blessings and healing that can come through those dark times. Let’s not waste our tears by wallowing in self-pity and sorrow but instead let’s lay it all at His feet and ask Him to carry the heavy burdens for us. I promise He will!

When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

We’ve all heard, or said, the phrase “I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired!” and there are a plethora of situations that may have rightfully triggered that statement. It could be because we’ve had the stomach flu for 2 days, bronchitis for 2 weeks or a chronic illness for 2 years. Whatever the reason, it’s a genuine predicament we often find ourselves in. So, what’s the secret formula to counteract it? I have created an acrostic for the word HEALING to give us 7 guidelines to follow on how best to overcome this mindset. But, before you get started, if you haven’t had a chance to read my last post entitled “My history is His-story” you can read that here.

H.E.A.L.I.N.G-

H- HONESTY. So, in the spirit of honesty, and I guess I have to be honest and say that I am guilty of not always being entirely honest when it comes to how I feel- about how I feel! (See what I did there?) I’m more of the peace-maker, anti-confrontational, make everything a non-issue type of person; so, my immediate response is to curl up in a little ball in the back of the closet alone, cry for a few minutes, wipe my tears (and my nose) and then emerge back into real life to face the problem head on- all while pretending that I’m okay even if I’m really not. It might seem like the easy approach at first, but believe me when I tell you that it all surfaces eventually. And, when it does it will resemble something like that of a nuclear explosion that of course isn’t optimal for you or those around you! There’s a song I love by Dara Maclean that’s called “Suitcases”. The lyrics written below speak of how you can’t run when you’re holding suitcases, or baggage. This may be an illness, depression, pain, hurt, betrayal etc. We have to recognize these objects we carry and be honest enough to identify them as baggage and then strong enough to put them down.

Can you imagine what it’s like to be free, oh, oh, oh?
Well, send those bags packing, they are not what you need, oh
Abandon your troubles by the side of the street
Just let them go now, believe me

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
Yes, it’s a new day, throw away your mistakes
And open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid

Just breathe, your load can be lifted
There’s a better way when you know you’re forgiven
Open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid

I’m blessed enough to have a husband and family that care enough about me that they truly desire the honest communication about how I am feeling. I am aware that some of you reading this today may not have that privilege here on earth, but rest assured that your Heavenly Father does care and delights in your honesty and vulnerability. He tells us in His word that we can “cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us!” That’s how we can run the race before us emotionally, mentally and spiritually even if we can’t physically walk even ½ a mile.

E- ENCOURAGEMENT. Nobody likes to be around negative, grouchy people; but inevitably we will rub shoulders with people of that mindset. We have to make a conscious effort to surround ourselves with positive uplifting people more often than the others.

There is a song by Francesca Battistelli called “Angel By Your Side” that fully describes the type of person we need in our lives.

I can’t say that everything’s okay
‘Cause I can see the tears you’re crying
And I can’t promise to take the pain away
But you can know I won’t stop trying

I’ll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I’ll be the strength you can’t provide on your own

‘Cause when you’re down and out of time
And you think you’ve lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side

My dad has always been my best friend and the angel by my side. He was the one that would drive me to my doctor’s appointments, be my voice when I couldn’t speak for myself or stay awake with me when the hallucinations or pain were in full swing. Many a late nights and early mornings were spent in our “cracker cave”. I’m sure you’re not aware of what the “cracker cave” is, so let me enlighten you. This is a place where I felt safe amidst the fear and frustration. My dad and I had it in our minds that crackers fixed everything—until I went on my diet and realized that they most certainly don’t fix anything! But either way, we’d crawl under the covers, tuck the sheet behind our heads to form a tent and flip on a flashlight and eat crackers- in the middle of the night! It was calming, it was fun and it helped me way more than I could ever put into words! My sweet husband has since taken that role over now, and though we’ve never gone into the cracker cave, he is the love, encouragement and support that I need. Whether it be in a parent, a sibling, a  friend or a spouse, there is someone prepared to join you on your journey. So I urge you, just as I did, to find your “Angel By Your Side”.

A- ABILITIES. This is a tool that can help you right here, right now. Wherever you are, focus on the things that you CAN do instead of what you can’t. Maybe like mine,the years usually spent “discovering yourself” has instead been spent battling disease and illness. I have expressed on many occasions that I’m not even sure what I like to do for “fun” and I haven’t gotten to experience “real life”. Although that may be the truth, it shouldn’t dominate our lives. At times it has dominated my mind and actions, and I’m not in the least bit proud of those moments.

So, how do you focus on what you can do when there’s more that you can’t do? Here’s what works best for me. Lists, lists, lists and more lists!!! If you know me at all you know how much I love creating my infamous lists. They keep me grounded and focused so when my Fibro fog sets in and I can’t remember anything to save my life, it’s a visual reminder of what needs to be remembered or accomplished. In an effort to change my thinking, I made a list of things that I like to do. Not only the things I know I can do, but what I really enjoy. After I wrote it all down, there were things that I knew physically would not be an option; however, I did find that there are many activities that I would be able to accomplish on my better days. If we’re honest (which we already said we are going to be!) then we can all admit that occasionally we need a reality check to keep in perspective and at the forefront of our minds that we are, in fact, able to do what we enjoy! So, go make a list!….after you finish the article of course! 😉

L- LAUGHTER- “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry!” That short statement holds so much truth, and I’m pretty positive that it’s physiologically impossible to be upset and laugh at the same time! Remember the cracker cave I told you about earlier? That was during a time that I could have cried all night, but instead my dad and I raided the kitchen cabinet, grabbed a flash light, told jokes and relived happy memories. You have an option when the storm is raging around you to either choose joy or choose sorrow. The Bible says in Proverbs17:22 that “ A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” I dare you, next time you feel upset, watch a funny video or read a funny story and witness how quickly your attitude changes!

I- INSPIRATION- Where do you find your inspiration? Is it through art, reading, photography, music or journaling? None of these things are bad in and of themselves; however, when we’re in a state of frustration and at our wits end, we need to learn to sift through the “noise” and determine what is helpful and what is hurtful. One of the complications of Secondary Addison’s is when you’re cortisol levels are depleted you have a hard time processing anything. In turn you become emotional and overwhelmed. For me, when my levels drop, I can’t process things as simple as the kitchen timer going off and someone talking all at the same time, much less the gravity of being sick in general. I can usually take an extra stress dose of cortisol and it will kick my brain back into its proper functions and I can pull myself together. When it’s not a drop in cortisol and it’s strictly frustration causing my emotional pain, I find that music and journaling are two things that inspire me. When I turn on worship music, I can literally feel weight being lifted off my shoulders and a calm sweeping over my spirit. In future posts I will share some of these songs along with scriptures that I wrote in my journal over the years praying they will inspire you the way they did me!

N- NO NEGATIVITY. Speaking from a chronically ill perspective there are times that I can’t help but realize just how long it’s been and that I’m just so over it. It’s when I allow myself to adopt that mentality, that slowly but surely the negativity creeps in. I’m sure you’ve been there too, but let me ask you a question. Will that mindset change the fact that you’re chronically ill, or that you have the stomach flu, or a pulled muscle? Does it take the disease and pain away? Nope. That’s a big fat NOPE. So, let’s look at negativity differently for a moment. Think about negatives (those from a camera). They are developed in the dark through a long and slow process. They begin as something that looks useless and are turned into beautiful memories. I know it’s impossible to remove the negative situations completely but we do have the power to alter the way we view them by the promise that they will become beautiful memories!

G- GOD. He is the foundation we must build our lives on and the most important guideline of all. (It’s only listed last in this article because that’s how the acrostic goes; but I guess we saved the best for last!). Sometimes life gets hard and the situations that we face can bring us down. The bright side of it all can be summed up by the message in Casting Crown’s song “Just Be Held”. The lyrics serve as a reminder that when we don’t have it all together and we feel like we have hit our all time low, we can let go, let God and “Just Be Held”.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

If you haven’t listened to any other song that I’ve referenced in this article; please listen to this one! Close your eyes, shut out the distractions, and let your self be held by the loving hands of your Savior and experience the healing that begins inside of your mind, heart and soul.

I can’t promise that this will take away the pain or the disease in your body, but I do believe that it can alter your prospective of the storm you face. Please know you’re not alone and don’t give up just before the miracle!