Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Training

Some of the Agape team and I have been at a Genesis Process training all week. We came home last night. We had a great trip. We left last Monday, five women packed in a car, bags and all. We packed semi-light. I had one medium sized bag, and it was stuffed full. I took shoes, and warm sweaters.  This is the bag I took:

We stuffed all our bags in the back of the car, and celebrated by taking a picture!

Our journey was fun. We talked, we laughed. It was full of anticipation.  Everyone was excited about the training and all the good things God was about to teach us.
We made stops along the way, and even tried to call home at an old phone booth:

We settled into our hotel right away. I liked seeing how we worked so well together. Everyone easily picked a room, and quickly started to put things away. We had candles, music, coffee, blankets, all the comforts of home.

The next day we were up bright and early and made it to the training in plenty of time. It didn't take long to see that we were in for an intense week!
Micheal Dye teaches the Genesis process in five days and he manages to stir up a lot of emotion!
I grabbed Micheal for a picture and also his lovely wife Cathy.

After the training, we would drive back to our hotel. Some would go for a run, or a swim. Some would retreat to the quiet of their room. I would usually retreat, because by then my body was not feeling very well and I was physically tired and emotionally tired. My family at home was going through some very difficult crisis, so I was feeling very sad for them. As I thought about the processes and worked through them and talked to God, my heart sometimes felt a little raw.
Sometimes I felt more like eating chocolate or hiding under my blanket.

Or I took pictures of other ladies doing their home work.

In the end, everybody finished. I learned a lot this past week, mostly about relationship. And, I was blessed by new experiences with God and His Words to me. Again, even in my moments of pain, He has shown me that I can laugh and be blessed. I can have joy in every journey and there will be a blessing.
On our way home, the pain in my body was more intense and I was beginning to feel like I was at my limit. I kept praying for God to give me the patience that I needed to get home. I needed to stop and get out of the car so I could lay down.

It's not exactly green pastures, but even in the pain, on the gravel parking lot, I couldn't help but laugh. My friends were gathered around me singing songs and doing jumping jacks.  A strange man came over from across the street to ask us if everything was okay. It all seemed kinda normal that I was laying around in the parking lot with gravel in my hair and girlfriends singing over me.  
Isn't that exactly what my Jesus does? He sings over me and all of us, and I am so pleased. And, as I am in training to further His Kingdom each and every day, He will continue to sing. 
Say That Again, Jesus! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Losses and The Gains

As I drove my daughter into school this morning, we listened to music together. My mind went back 20 years when my three adult sons were little and they were all home, busy as can be! When the three of them were very young, my husband and I decided that we were done having children, three was enough, so we took measures to make sure that there would be no more pregnancies.  But then, when our youngest was around 12, I began to have a change of heart, and I wanted to have more children. So, we went to the doctor, reversed the past decision, and six months later I was pregnant with our now 11 year old son! It was very exciting. It was like we were starting our family all over again, and to welcome our little son was amazing.
After he was born, I knew I wanted to have another one. I wanted him to have a sibling to play with, so after a couple years I got pregnant again. But, I miscarried at 8 weeks. We tried again, and I got pregnant right away. This time everything seemed to go really well, until one night I dreamed that our baby had died in the womb. I was 20 weeks. I called my doctor that morning asking for an ultrasound, and yes, our little boy was no longer alive. We went to the hospital for labor to be induced so I could deliver him.
We continued to try to have another child, and I had three more miscarriages. It did not seem to be in God's plan. It was a discouraging process. But, because of all of that, we ended up in China and brought home our daughter. She has added spark and drama to our lives. I don't think any of us every imagined one little girl could be so loud, dramatic, tearful, happy, angry, spunky, and joyful all at the same time!
Some one asked me if I've known life without pain. I've thought about that question a little bit more and I think that life always has an element of some kind of pain. If I am willing to admit and feel the pain, then I am able to know, see, and feel the joy. One cannot happen without the other. Jesus was the Man of Sorrow, His life was full of pain, yet He was a Joyful Man.
I'm thankful today for life, the life I have been given, and with that life there are losses and gains. I'm praising God for both, because I am seeing that He has taught me so much. Jesus, I will Say That Again, I am thankful!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Mercy Song

I woke up early, as I normally do, and began to reflect on my day yesterday. My night was long again with a restless painful sleep. When I did wake up this morning I listened to Joy in the Journey by Michael Card, and it brought a smile to my face as I was gently reminded that there is light, wonder, and wildness to life when I seek it.
Yesterday, I finished up a group that I've been meeting with now for months. We made it through book one and book two in the Genesis Process, and it was good! I also met with other women on an individual basis and another group. It was a good day.
A friend of mine sent me pictures of pallets from far away with a little note saying she had found me lots of pallets!

I like the flower beside the pallets!
The doctor I am seeing is discussing my surgery with our insurance. He is sending in an appeal. In the meantime, I get to wait. I get to practice Joy in my Journey. I get to look for the wonder, the light, and the wildness in my life, even when I am in pain.
This morning, I decided to look for more songs. A friend of mine likes Amy Grant. So I was scrolling through some of Amy Grants songs from way back, and I came across the song How Mercy Looks From Here.
"When you face your greatest fear losing all that you hold near, open up your eyes my dear, oh how mercy looks from here."
The song is beautiful, and it really hit the spot for me, because it tied in to a book I'm reading. In my book, I read three questions last night:
1. What in my life, if taken away, would alter my value or identity?
2. What causes an unhealthy change of attitude, personality, or focus when "it" becomes threatened?
3. What is the thing outside of God that you put everything else on hold for ?

God has allowed me to have some pain in my life, and with this pain a few fears have crept in. What if it never goes away? What if I have to give up my way of life because of this? How am I going to learn to manage this? There's a lot of questions, and a lot of changes. His mercy has got to be my sustaining power.
So, today, I'm calling out for mercy all day long. And, I'm going to listen to Amy Grant! And, I asked my friend if she planned to bring all those pallets home with her, and she said I should send her a shrinking ray gun and she'd see what she could fit into her suitcase.  So I'm working on that :)
Jesus, You are the ultimate Mercy Song, sing over me today, and I'm asking You to Say That Again!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Princess

My daughter and I have had the weekend to ourselves.  My husband and son went on a boy scout camping trip. After school on Friday, my daughter and I visited a friend, and then we ate taco's, her favorite food. We then came home to watch a movie, one of her favorite things to do. We watched Cinderella. She thought it was a lot of fun, and so did I. She got to stay in my bed and that was exciting for her. The next day, we had to hurry out the door because she had a soccer game in the morning. We went to the coffee shop first and got her juice. My husband came home for the afternoon to whisk her away to another soccer game, and give me a break. It was good for her to have some time with her daddy. And, good for me to have a rest.
My afternoon was gifted in many ways by friends blessing me, and again, I felt so loved and cared for. My Agape Team met for dinner and a meeting, we planned, we prayed, we laughed. My heart thanked God, again for this group, all of them eager to serve God and His Kingdom.
At the end of the day, my husband was gone again, back to our son. I found myself watching Princess Diaries with my daughter. When it ended she said, "I want to be a princess!" I said, "You already are a Princess, you have been from the beginning."
I remember wanting the very same thing when I was a little girl. Today, I was thanking Him for raising me into a princess, and for surrounding me with so many beautiful princesses.  Even though life is not perfect, and not pain free, I know where I'm sitting, and who I'm sitting next to! I know my feet are in Paradise.
It's after midnight right now, I woke up from the pain in my body. Even a princess has pain. Our insurance denied the surgery I need, because I have not had symptoms for over 6 months. This does not make me feel like a princess. But, the truth is, pain does not define who I am. God does. I will continue on the journey until there is a solution.
So, again, I've done some rambling, late at night. My daughter is asleep beside me. Fur Ball is asleep on the couch, legs in the air. I am probably grumpy, but there is no one here to confirm. Best of all, both my daughter and I are princesses. Both, citizens of God's Kingdom. Both with lovely friends that are princesses of God's Kingdom as well.
So, I think everyone should Say That Again!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Journey

Many years ago I use to listen to a song titled "Joy in the Journey" the artist is on the tip of my tongue, but of course I cannot remember him right now. Anyway, I've been thinking about that song the last couple of days, and asking God to give me some joy through this present journey. Life is full of all kinds of stuff, pain included. Right now, I get physical pain, so it takes more effort to see the joy for me.
Yesterday, I spent some time with a friend. We went to Starbucks for a coffee. We sat outside in the sun and drank our coffee, it was very nice. I listened to her talk about her last few days, and I found joy in the experiences she was recounting to me.
We then took our lunch and went to the park and dined with the bees. We had salad and cheese. We were by the lake, and the day was beautiful. I worked at seeing His creation, being thankful for my friend, feeling the air, the warmth, and loving life. After eating, we went on an ice cream hunt around town. I decided that our town has a huge fault, and that is, there are few places that sell ice cream. We went to one shop, that was closed for the season. We went to another that "hadn't sold ice cream in years." Finally, we hit the jackpot and found ice cream at the local coffee shop near my office. We didn't just have ice cream though, we made a new discovery. A scoop of ice cream with espresso poured over it and topped with whipped cream. Delicious---It has a name, something along the lines of affogatto. Sorry, I don't think I'm spelling it correctly.
Anyway, I found joy in my ice cream discovery, and I will certainly find my way back to that place again. It was fun. Ice cream, coffee, whip cream, all in one bite, that's a joyful bite!
I'm reading a new book, and in the first chapter he made it a point to say that it's about God's Kingdom, not about me. In other words, I'm not the star in this drama, God is. I have an important role to play, but it's not all about me. Sometimes, when I'm all wrapped in a world of hurt, I start thinking it's all about me, and it's easy to forget that the world is still turning.
I want to journey along into joy, hope, peace, faith, and pain, as Jesus opens His arms to me. As I live through all of this, I want to be a Witness for His Kingdom!  Jesus, Say That Again to me, You will journey with me!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Unprocessed Papers

Today was the day I was planning to have surgery, and hopefully see an end to the pain I've been experiencing all summer long. But, just thirty minutes before I was due to leave for the hospital the doctor's office called and confirmed that our insurance had not processed all the paper work, so it was not a guarantee that they would pay for the surgery. I decided to reschedule. I think it may be another three weeks before I am able to have this taken care of, and even though the thought of surgery is not exciting to me, I am looking forward to having a solution to this pain.
So, I'm working at being patient through the pain. But, I am finding that it is not always that easy. Surrendering the pain a step at a time is about the only way I'm going to get to the next step, and distraction.
Last night, my son gave me his teddy bear. He told me that I should take it with me to the hospital so that I would have something soft and comforting. I put it in my back pack, and when I saw him today after school I pulled it out and showed it to him. He grinned. He told me to keep his bear for awhile longer since I was still in pain, then maybe I would start to feel a little better.
My daughter came home with a bracelet that she made for me in school. It's white and fuzzy and it twists around my wrist. It is a sweet gift, and I like wearing it.
I have a friend that brought us dinner tonight, and even though I did not have surgery, her thoughtful gift felt like a life saver to me. I do not feel like making dinner! It did feel good to me to give my family dinner though, and my friend made that possible.
I was not able to get exactly what I wanted today to get my pain to lessen, but I still felt blessed in many ways. Tender moments, and thoughtful acts were weaved throughout my day.
I have been praying that I will have patience through the pain, I guess I will have to keep on praying the same prayer. And, I know God will give it to me because He promises to bless me with patience in His Spirit. Say That Again, Jesus, You will be there and give me patience through the pain.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Visit to the Doctor

I went to the doctor today to discuss my options. I'm still in a lot of pain. The surgery I had last Friday was a little trip inside my abdomen to try to figure out why I am in pain. So it seems I have some very disruptive veins, and some scar tissue that is causing havoc, and some inflammation, all of it put together is making for a lot of pain and pressure." Discomfort" that is what the doctor said to me today. But, I felt the need to correct him and clarify that it was far more than discomfort. Pain, this is plain old pain.
So, I get to have another surgery on Friday!  Friday is surgery day, and just because I had one last Friday doesn't make me less anxious today. So, I've been sitting in my office talking to Jesus about the pain, the pressure, the anxiety, and the big surgery that's coming up on Friday.
I'm thinking I will need to stock up on chocolate covered ice cream bars with nuts. And, fuzzy socks, even though it's not cold outside.
The doctor said the recovery time is 6-8 weeks. I asked him if I could still go to a training that I am due to go to near the end of this month, and he said that he would make me comfortable enough to get me there, as long as I promised not to do anything strenuous along the way or once I was there!
It is hard to put life on hold. It's a challenge to just stop everything and to ask the people in my life to wait til I feel better. I want to squeeze recovery times into a shorter space of time and I want to find solutions. I keep asking Jesus for direction, and then I sometimes question if the choices I've made are the right ones. Surgery is a big choice, but it seems like the only way to go at this point.
So, I'll be heading off to more IV's and skinny beds, and super sterile rooms.
This morning I read Psalms 50, and my favorite part was verse  4:

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.

So many times throughout my day I need to speak the name of Jesus, and when I do, He comes and He helps me. He sustains my soul. I am certain I will be speaking His name when I visit the hospital for my second surgery, and I am just as certain He will be there to help me and sustain my weary soul.  Say That Again, Sweet Jesus, You are my Help  and my Sustainer when I call. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Moose and the Apple Tree

I went with my husband and children to help out a friend today. As we traveled along the road we noticed a huge moose in the front yard of someones house. He was eating the apples off of their tree! The owners of the apple tree were sitting at the opening of their front door, staring at the moose. Passerby's had pulled over to the side of the road, and started to take pictures of him. The moose didn't seem to take much notice of any of us, he was very involved with the apple tree.
My husband wondered how many apples he would eat before he wandered on to some other place, and I decided that he would probably eat all the apples he could reach before he would move on.

I thought it was fascinating how he could just saunter in and help himself to the neighbors apple tree and they didn't seem to mind at all.
We have had a few visits from a moose this past year too, we do not have any apples to offer, but we did stare at him. And, Fur Ball spent a long time barking at him making it very clear to him that he was trespassing on private property. But, the moose that came to visit our house was just like the moose with the apple tree, he didn't seem to care about what we thought or Fur Ball thought, he just did his own thing in his own way.
There's not really a point to my moose story. These were just the thoughts I had today concerning the moose I saw eating the apples off the neighbors tree. It was another little blessing, in the middle of my curve ball life. I needed to see the moose, the apple tree, and all the people staring.
Jesus, You create surprises along the way because sometimes the curve balls just keep on coming. Say That Again, today You sent a moose to make me laugh, and it was good!