power of the cross

I don’t like being sick.  I know, who really does, right?  After weeks of feeling run down, being in constant pain, running fevers, struggling with breath, my body had finally had it and laid the “smack down” on me — which translates into a wipe out of sorts that doesn’t give me the option to “push through”.  Every breath is conscious, every movement sends the room spinning, and I’m resigned to be still and to the thoughts… why did I let it go this far?  My children walked into the house after school, my oldest shushing my youngest, “Quiet, Mom is sleeping!  She’s really sick!”  They know the drill.  My youngest peeked into the bedroom, me a limp rag on the bed and feebly asked my oldest, “Is she dead?”.  Awesome.  Getting the energy to sit up and give them both hugs and kisses and ask about their days was essential after that (smile).

And the frustrating thing with my lung and breathing issues is that it also reaks havoc on my emotions.  Struggling for breath leaves me feeling panicky, anxious, so vulnerable — and that so deeply plays into my emotions as well — in short, I’m a physical, as well as, an emotional mess.  And yes, I know, so deeply know, it all could be ever so much worse, but right now in this moment, if just plain stinks…

My body has to work harder on the inside.  So why do I keep beating myself up when I start getting worn out, rather than listening to it?  Instead, my mind pushes my body harder, “Everyone is tired.  Everyone else can keep up.” Instead of heeding the tell tales signs, instead of embracing my “differentness”, instead of slowing down, and when someone says, “Are you going to get around to doing those dishes in the sink?” after I’ve left a sink full to soak because after a day of chasing four and five year olds, teaching them about numbers and measurements and manners and how we all really should use a Kleenex instead of our fingers to extract our boogers and how we are ALL FRIENDS in preschool, I really don’t have one more ounce of energy to scrub the damn dishes after supper, I will tell myself it is simply okay to reply — “Tomorrow, maybe…” instead of feeling somehow less than.

I just got done reading a fantastic book — God’s gift to this bed ridden Momma today (smile–because who has time to read?) — called “Unglued” by Lysa Terkeurst.  I fully realize I am a very emotional person (some people call it crazy–smile), compulsive and often driven by, and clouded by those feelings.  I don’t like to be controlled by them.  I hate overanalyzing absolutely everything people say or do.  It’s agonizing.  It’s overwhelming. It’s something that disgusts me about myself.  Why do I care so much? A ‘self-help’ book junkie, with years of therapy under my belt, I embraced this book.

The examples are, by no means, deep or dark or tedious.  She uses little, every day experiences as examples of these unglued situations–that generally stem from many other more far reaching places.  I know where my hot mess comes from.  I was hoping she’d give me license to it–in some fashion–honestly, a little piece of me really was.  “It’s okay that you’re so dysfunctional, Ang!  You survived hell.  You deserve it, girl!  Go on with your crazy self!”  But, she doesn’t.  What she DID give me was far more gratifying–hope, useful tools, and joy.  I laughed, I cried, I felt empowered.

For years and years and years, over half of my life, living in an abusive home and undergoing this abuse far into adulthood, I was not able to have a voice.  It was unacceptable.  Absolutely NOTHING about me was okay.  That in itself is a mess to get through–I won’t say ‘get over’, because one never does–with grace you continue to walk and breathe and be–only by grace.  I sought therapy, lots and lots and lots of therapy.  And I learned I had a voice, and that it was okay to talk–first I just sighed and breathed and exhaled–and I didn’t die.  Then all I could do was cry.  Then I whispered and those whispers turned into words and then I couldn’t stop talking or hugging or loving–I NEVER, EVER wanted anyone to feel the way I had felt or continued to feel in my dark places.  I wanted everyone to be happy, to feel secure, safe, to know I cared, and maybe, just maybe — to LIKE me.  And a whole different set of flood gates opened as there are so many people who will feel no remorse in hurting you again or taking advantage of or manipulating that.  And the cycle continued and, honestly, may always continue for me — but God is forever merciful, gracious and good and he has opened my heart to so much healing and kindness, joy and love in my life — I’m just not sure how to always navigate all the emotional parts. Hence, this book.  I found myself underlining, starring, and finding possible tattoo ideas (smile) — I didn’t want to forget any of it.

In any situation, my least favorite feeling is to feel stuck–helpless.  It takes me back to some very awful places.  But God always reminds me, that NO MATTER WHAT, in ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, I have a choiceeven if that only choice is my thoughts.  I loved that about this book.  And, praise God, I love that about this little glitch in my lungs.  I have a choice to be depressed or a choice to see it as a time to draw closer to Him, a time to praise him for all he has done, a “time out” for my mind and body, a time to rest.  It’s my body’s Sabbath.   This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, “In every situation, in every interaction, in every day, be a noticer of the good.  That’s what God-seekers do–they notice the good.  Even when the good has nothing to do with the circumstances and everything to do with how God will teach us through them–find the good.  And in that good, our souls will exhale, ‘Sabbath’.” (Lysa Terkeurst, “Unglued”) “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is the Biblical way of saying something similar.  God knows what is good for our hearts, even in our dark times, may we seek his face and rejoice! Much easier said than done, yes, and I will admit that sometimes I wallow as I feel that I deserve only good days from now on–“I’ve had my share, God!”.  But he is forever patient with me, forever merciful, and it is when I turn my face to him and to his word that I find the most incredible treasures in my life–in those miserable times.  Praise him, indeed.

Keeping our minds and hearts on the things above.  The devil tries to derail us from this constantly, and for me it’s in the busy. I get so lost in busy!  I feel like I don’t have a choice but to be lost in busy.  I don’t listen to my body.  I listen to all the other voices that tell me I’m not enough and I run my emotions and my physical being into a frenzy of nothing.  I become the worthless I feel.  My insides have to work harder than some people’s to function, the short and condensed version (I’ll spare you the boring details), but this is not a tragedy.  It doesn’t matter if that is visible or not.  I don’t have to keep up with anyone but the dear Lord above, and thanks be to Him, he’s not keeping a score of any kind.  He loves me for me.  Wow.  “Do less.  Be more.  Clear out the clutter of idle words.  Find that white space.  Honor God.” (“Unglued”).  Pretty simple.  All I ever have to be is His.  And that creation is pretty amazing, however messy it is–because He says so (smile).

And I am his child.  This hit me today, lying in bed all fevery and sick once again–wondering what it would feel like to have someone take care of you.  A child of God.  And my mind wondered to how much I love my children.  How deeply, selflessly, incredibly and endlessly I LOVE MY BOYS.  Me, an imperfect, sinful, broken momma.  How AMAZING and ASTOUNDING must God’s PERFECT LOVE be for us???  It seriously blew my mind today and I remembered the verse from Ephesians I HAD to have in our wedding ceremony–one I have clung to my whole life and just burst into tears lying in bed–“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 I believe God has been trying to teach me my favorite Bible verse my whole life–imprinting it upon my heart as well as on my tongue.  I praised him gratefully in that moment.  What an amazing, truly amazing, love.

And above ALL else, I want my boys to know this–not just in their brain, by words or scriptures, but in their SOULS!  To be able to stand on it when the waters of life are treacherous and know they can still swim — only Jesus could walk on water (smile), to be able to give even when they are tired and used up, to be able to stand up for what’s right even when it’s scary and no one else has the courage to stand up, and to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  Because that is, the greatest of these.  And if I can do nothing else in this busy, busy life–that is it.

And so I thank these forever defective lungs–forever till this body that houses my soul is shed–for slowing me down.  I praise God for this.  It may mean more sick days than a “normal” person and weekends of decreased productivity, a messier house, never calling myself a “runner” again, missed games or tournaments, but it gives my soul and body extra Sabbath with my Lord.  So I will praise Jesus.  I praise him for this day and thank him for taking such good care of me and thank him for giving me the life he has because it has given me the heart it has, the eyes it has, the gratefulness, the acceptance, the openness–despite the mess that is me.  I can finally come to see it all as a blessing.  Some of it a painful blessing.  One that still comes with nightmares and incredibly tough days when dark thoughts tangle, but on those days I have a choice–a most glorious choice–to cling to truth, to cling to Him, to cling to hope.

He truly always has a plan.  And in his word, we are equipped with the tools to do more than survive–we can thrive and shine like stars in the universe. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you, may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:14-16.

I may never conquer all my demons, and that may not be the plan he has for me on this earth, but I can certainly move forward in praise and love and thanksgiving–and always grace.  His grace is sufficient for me.  And Asmanex, prednisone, albuterol and ibuprofen.  Lots and lots of ibuprofen.  Blessings to you all.  And so much joy! So much JOY…

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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