Thursday, July 26, 2012

Smack-Dab In The Middle Of It All!

From the Journey devotional (thank you Mrs. Jean for thinking of me and sharing):
"The difficult circumstances of our lives aren't always caused by blatant sin. In fact, difficulties and hard times can be ordained by God. Sometimes He puts certain people through a crash course of faith using hard circumstances because He has great things for them to do based on the growth they gain from their trials.
We want God to be really smooth and easy, and we want obedience to always lead to a calm, trouble-free life. But that's not the way life works. Our faithfulness isn't directly proportional to how easy our lives will be.
Our idea that God isn't at work in a situation unless it's calm is not a biblical perspective. The Apostle Paul wrote, 'We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
If you are going through hard times, don't automatically assume that you must be doing something wrong or that God is disciplining you. Seek Him out. Walk with Him and know that He will accomplish His purpose in the middle of your circumstances whether or not you eve know what that purpose it. Take heart: God is working through your circumstances. He will never let His children endure pain without a purpose, and we'll never go through it alone."

In late June, early July, the symptoms of my Pseudotumor had returned. I knew I was due an appointment with Dr. Holman (my Ophthalmologist in Montgomery), so I did not see any reason to call Dr. Vaphiades (my Neurosurgeon in Birmingham). When I went to see her, she examined me and told me the optic nerves were swelling again and she thought it was best that I go back on the Diamox. Now remember, I have just come off of this in May. So, needless to say, my bubble had been busted and I felt like we were starting over at square one. I went ahead and called Dr. V to tell him what she had found and he agreed that going back on the low dose was the best thing to do. To say that I was not happy would be an understatement.

James and I were traveling to Birmingham that day for a dear friend's funeral, so I had a bit of a ride to think about and try to make sense of it all. You know, it has been easy for me to sing God's praises when it seemed like we were turning pages in the right direction and things were going well. Now, my faith was really to be put to the test. Would I be strong enough to sing His praises, even in this storm? I found myself feeling a little guilty for having a bit of a pity party (if you know me, you know what I say about pity parties; no one is there but you and the devil) over my news, seeing how we were going to say goodbye to a friend who was leaving her husband, 2 sweet children and parents behind. Where did I even have the right to upset with the fact that I was "just having to go back on meds"? I was then reminded that even though it may not be such a 'big deal' to others, it was to me and because it is to me, it is to my God. He cares when I am hurting, when I am upset, when I don't understand and when I am frustrated. He cares enough to listen and to console. He cares enough to help me see the there is light at the end of the tunnel, if only I trust Him to get me there.

As we sat at Jamie's funeral and I saw picture after picture of this sweet face scroll through a slide show, I was reminded that God is good-all of the time! He placed a smile on her face and in her heart, even when I am sure she did not feel like smiling. She sent words of encouragement to so many others, when I am sure her heart was breaking-she never let you know it, though. Friend after friend spoke about how Jamie met this disease with grace and fought it like a true champion. I decided then that I was going to "put on my big girl panties, and deal with it!"

Funny how God works. My foot had to be put in a cast (nothing serious, we are just trying to avoid surgery) so that has kinda put a little stumbling stone in my path- only because I let it, I suppose. But one positive thing it has made me do-slow down and take time to focus on my spiritual walk and prayer life. Within about an eight week span, I was taken off of my Diamox (a high), my daddy became sick and was placed in the hospital (which ended up being about a 25 day stay) (a low), my friend Jamie died (a low), my foot had to be placed in a cast (another low), headaches began (ugh...), had to go back on the Diamox (the valley), daddy was released from the hospital (yea!!! a mountain top) and a couple of friends were going through difficult times in their lives (the pits),  several days of bad headaches (yuck) and got to come back off of the meds (Yippie!!) just this week. Needless to say, it has been an emotional roller coaster! Through all of this, God has reminded He is good by sending little rays of sunshine here and there to provide happiness along the way. Conversations with dear friends (adopted grandparents) who remind us that He is good-ALL of the time, a witty comment from my sweet Evan, a hug around the legs and an 'I Wuv You' at just the right time, a hand squeeze from my hubby or just the assurance that everything was going to be ok. No matter how big or small those moments may have been to the other person, they were huge for me during this chapter of my life. God knows just what we need when we need it!

That is why I can say, without a doubt, that I KNOW the words of this devotion are true. God walks through all of life's storms with us. Without Him, it would be impossible. If He were not there, smack-dab in the middle of it all, we would just throw our hands up in the air and make a huge mess of it. He is the one that holds us together. He provides those little rays of sunshine-even when we can't see that is what it is at the time. Each and every situation He gives us is an opportunity to allow Him to do a great work in our lives. We have to be willing to let Him shine. We are just the vessels. He loves us when we are not lovable. He listens when all we want to do is scream. He understands when we are angered. He calms the storms and provides smoother sails.

I want people to see that through it all, I glorified Him. Through the good days and the bad, when my heart was happy and when it ached, when I saw the clear path and when I was walking by faith alone. I want others to see Him living in me. He wants the best for me and I know that. He has a perfect plan for me and I know this because I know that He loves me so.

No matter what may come, no matter the storm clouds that may be waiting just ahead, I will praise my Savior! He gives me the good days and I know He will guide me through the bad.

Until next time...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes I Just Wonder

The definition of wonder: One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel.

Do you ever sit back and just wonder? Get caught in a thought or idea and truly wonder? The past couple of weeks have caused me to do just that. We have done a lot of driving back and forth to the hospital in Tuscaloosa with my dad (he is home, by the way, and doing much better), so while riding or driving I have done some wondering. I have wondered about serious things and some sillly things. For example: I have wondered how in the world a form of strep can get into a wound and cause something so serious. I have wondered why in the world my daddy's blood pressure and blood sugar could not be controlled in the hospital when they seemed to be ok at home. I have wondered why in the world they provide such cheap blankets for the patients and families-see, I told you some of the things were silly. Then, as we celebrated my 30th birthday in the very hospital in which I was born, I wondered how in the world did I get so lucky to have such an amazing family!

Let's start with my parents since, well, that is really where I began in the first place. My mama has shown such love and devotion to me my entire life-but there has been a different side of her that has shown through since my daddy has been sick. I have truly seen "in sickness or in health." She never left his side the entire first week he was in the hospital. It actually was more like the first week and a half. I think she thought no one could care for him the way she She prayed over him. She took care of his needs. She loved him--through it all! Even when they were on one another's last nerve, she knew that by his side was where she needed to be.

Then there is my daddy. What can I say? I am a daddy's girl! Still, at the age of 30! Did I really just say that? 30?! YIKES! He has such a gentle spirit about him. Even though he is "Big Daddy" he is the biggest teddy bear you will ever meet. He loves people and truly cares for their feelings and well being. He wants everyone to know Jesus and he never minds giving the shirt off of his back, even if that meant he would be left with nothing. That's my daddy! He appreciates all that has been done for him in order to make sure he has gotten better.

They both have loved me when I was not so loveable and held my hand and cried with me when I have been faced with new diagnosis.

My little (big) brother, Heath. Heath is one Jesus loving, kind-hearted big kid. Wherever there is fun, you are sure to find Heath right in the middle of it. He cares for others in such a way that it brings a tear to my eye-he gets that from our daddy. He would give you anything that he has. He has a heart for missions and for serving the Lord. He desires to be in God's will and will not stop until he knows he is following the path that God has for him. He is motivated to do what is right, even when it may not be the "cool" thing to do. He is a huge ham for the camera and big kid at heart.

My Nanny is so much fun. It is nice when you can call your grandmother your friend. I know that I can call her at any time and she will do whatever she can do to help meet my needs. She loves me dearly and I know she worries about me. I know that she prays for me and that she wants me to be happy. I love it that she loves shoes (we wear the same size) and that when she tires of them she passes them down. I love that she wants to know what is going on in my life. I love her cooking and that she wants me to know how to do it too. She always was such a great role model when it came to showing me how to care for my husband. She took such great care of my Paw-Paw. Always listening and doing, never asking for a lot in return. I'd be lost without her.

My Aunt Pam, Madison, Maci and Uncle Tim. The Brent Crew! Aunt Pam has always been one of my biggest fans and she is one of my best friends. I know without a doubt that she will listen when I call and will try to help me find a solution. I love her to pieces. Madison is my mini-me! Ha! We fight sometimes but it is just because we are so much a like! Maci is such a joy. She and Heath are a lot alike. She is so caring and has a soft gentle way about her, but do not be mistaken, this girl can hold her own! She knows who she is and she is not afraid of that and I love that about her! I love these girls as though they are my own!! I hope they know that if they ever need anything, I am just a phone call away and I will come to them as quickly as I can. My sweet Uncle Tim! He would still rock me to sleep even now if I wouldn't break his legs...ha! I know that if I ever called and said we were moving back home, he would be the first to come with a trailor attached to his truck! I love him and I know he loves me!

When I married, I gained a great new family. Mrs. Marian and Mr. Joe always want what is best for James, Evan and me. I know that when they say they are praying for me, they are. They belive that God will restore my health and I know they are claiming that! I feel blessed to have gained such wonderful in-laws and brothers and sisters--and of course, nieces and nephews!!

My sweet Evan! He holds my heart and makes it melt all at the same time. He is so much fun--teaching me new things each and every day. He loves people and he loves to learn. It makes me become a puddle knowing that he loves to go to church and learn (and sing) about Jesus. He never meets a stranger and becomes friends the moment they meet. From the day he was born I promised to love him forever and I look forward to the many years ahead of love, hugs and kisses!!

The love of my life, James. I can honestly say I would be lost without him. Even when we are pushing one another's buttons, I can't imagine doing even that with anyone else. I know without a doubt that he is there for me 100%. He will defend me, love me, protect me, honor me, respect me and cherrish me-all the days of my life. I have learned with James, over these past 9 years, that it is not always so much about telling people that you love them, but showing them. There is truth to actions speak louder than words. I am anxious for the next years of my life, taking time to "show" James (and tell him too) how much I deeply love him. I am so thankful that God saw fit to make sure that our paths crossed. He is such a blessing to me and oh how I love him so!

I can't close this post without mentioning my friends. I am so blessed to have the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. There are some that I see on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, there are some who we have to stay in touch through phone calls, text messages or emails and then there are some who without Facebook, we would be lost! Whatever way works best for us, I am glad that we have it and I am so thankful to have each of you. Friends help lighten the load sometimes even when you didn't realize how heavy it even was!

I often wonder why Jesus loved us so much that He would die for us. I don't know that I have that answer, or that I ever will, but I am so thankful for his act of love. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He watches over me and oh how He loves me!

Until next time...