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A Daily Prayer

So I have started writing a post numerous times but every time I just get so tired that I never get to finish it. This is not that post. That one will come. 🙂 Sometime…

I have had a lot on my mind lately and this prayer by Matt Chandler has been one that I have said often:

“My prayer, then is, ‘Lord, help me rejoice in You in this moment. Because I know You are in control. I know You love me; I know You love my family. And I don’t understand what You’re doing, and I don’t know how things are going to work out. But help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.'”  -Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

I love that quote. I say it to remind myself that it’s okay not to know how it’s going to work out. I remind myself that God’s love is unchanging, undying, and he won’t leave me. I remind myself that his sovereignty is my hope and that somehow, with Christ, there IS a way to rejoice and find that hope in the midst of difficulties.

And that’s what I have for you today. That, and this beautiful song to encourage you to find your hope in Christ and what he has done for you.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in encouragment

 

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A Year of Tears and Thanksgiving

Today is the one year mark. Hm. The implications in that simple statement flood my mind with a myriad of thoughts and feelings. One year ago today I woke up and had the first seizure of many. I remember the confusion and exhaustion my body felt that day. When I got home late from work that night and laid on the couch crying in my confusion, little did I know how many tears I would shed over the next year.

I used to never cry. At least, very rarely. It was so rare that it was like a marker for that day. “Oh I remember that day! Yeah, because I cried.” Ridiculous, right? I know some people that cry at the drop of a hat. You know who you are. 🙂 But that wasn’t me; I just didn’t cry much.

I could probably count on both hands the number of days in the last year that I haven’t cried. Now you are probably thinking “Wow, what a crybaby.” I know, right? It’s been a rough year physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And I have struggled. And I have cried until I couldn’t anymore- literally, my body started to pass out if I cried.

I have cried tears of pain, confusion, exhaustion, sadness, frustration, and loss.

But I have also cried tears of thanksgiving. I have been thankful for faithful friends to walk with me and comfort me. I have been thankful for wisdom given to doctors and for small kindnesses of nurses. Most of all, I have been thankful for the blessing of being able to read the Word and find encouragement in it:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:8-9

It is comforting to know that God keeps track of our tears. He knows our struggle and is actually able to relate with it. He knows what it feels like to weep because of loss and sorrow. I love that last part: What can man do to me? I will readily admit that man can do much to us but it reminds me that no matter what happens in this life, Christ has already won! And we are more than conquerors through HIM. What a thing to be thankful for, right?!

So today, one year later, I celebrate that victory. In this moment, do I feel victorious? Nope. I’m having 3-7 seizures a day, my back is killing me from all the muscle tension, and my head is about to explode. But today, I choose to celebrate in this life, the life that is to come because of what Christ has done.

Today, I choose to be thankful.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in thanksgiving

 

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A Buffet Line

Buffet restaurants are my favorites and I also dislike them. Ha! They are my favorites because I don’t have to decide and order and there are tons of options but I don’t like them because I usually only eat one plate of food so I don’t really feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of the whole deal. But still, tell me you are going to Golden Corral and I’ll be all in.

As I was doing my devotions this morning, it hit me that sometimes we treat God’s Word like a buffet line. Like there are tons of options and we get to pick what we want. There is a particular reason that this thought came to me today. Right now I am memorizing 1 Peter 2 and I’m also studying 1 Peter which is pretty handy. As I was working on memorizing this morning, it occurred to me that there is one very popular verse (actually partial verse) in the section I was working on, but all the verses around it are often left out. Look:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:13-17

So if you just read over that, maybe you found the verse I’m talking about: “Live as people who are free..” Everyone loves that verse. You see it on t-shirts and mugs, and you often hear sermons preached on it. People love freedom. But do they enjoy the part that says not to use your freedom as a cover-up for evil? Do they like the verses above it and below it that tell them to honor the emperor or in our case, president? Ouch. Threw that one in there, didn’t I?

Let me travel a little further along the lines of verse 13. It says to be subject or rather, be obedient to the government, right? Now this is assuming that the government is not telling you to do something against God’s Word. Can I bring up a touchy issue? Oh good. I was going to anyway. When I purchased a gun a while back, I had numerous of my believing friends tell me that I needed to get two of them. Very confused, I would ask why I needed to have two and the response was always the same. So that when guns are outlawed and the government comes to take them, you can give one and keep the other but it looks like you have given yours.

Besides the obvious deceit in this action (which would go against the first verse in 1 Peter 2), can someone point me to a verse in the Bible where God grants us the right to own a gun? I can’t think of any verses but I can think of several that tell us to obey those in authority over us because God has placed them there. I can point to a verse that tell us to be subject for the Lord’s sake to our government.

Perhaps you are one of those people that I talked to and maybe you are upset with me right now. I would love to have a good conversation with you and hear your side of things. I’m not trying to be better than anyone here but I am trying to honestly evaluate what God has told us in his Word. And I am trying to live by it.

Because as much as I love buffets, his Word isn’t optional.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Devotions

 

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Chutes and Ladders

Have you ever played Chutes and Ladders? I loved that game growing up! You know why? Because the good kids get rewarded and the bad kids get punished and it just seemed like a fair kind of system. There was however, one thing I did NOT like about the game. If you remember (think back to your childhood…unless you are like me and still play kid’s games…), the goal of the game was to get to the 100 spot. So you finally work your way up to 85 and start to get excited because you are getting close and a roll later you end up on the 87 square. Do you know what is on the 87 square?? A chute. A chute that lands you back down on 24! I remember that happening to me several times in a game and getting frustrated by being so close and then the disappointment came of rolling into that square.

Chutes&Ladders1

I currently feel like I am very close to landing in that 87 square. Let me explain.

I went to Cleveland Clinic on Feb. 24th. Have I mentioned before how amazing they are? I would also like to mention, though, that this time they really tested my memory of 4th grade geography. I was having my EEG done and they usually ask you several questions just to make sure you are thinking correctly. Often the questions are along the lines of: Do you know where you are? What is today’s date? Who is the president? Things like that. Do you know what they asked me this time? Name the Great Lakes. Uhhhh….hang on while I pull that HOMES acronym out of my memory…

My EEG came back clear (Thank you, Jesus!) but I had been having a lot of issues with some of the side effects of one of the medications which is the main thing I wanted to talk with the doctor about. I had also noticed that if I was under stress (which is life), I was still having lots of seizures, so the medications were not fully controlling them either.

Come to find out that the medication causing all the issues is actually considered a “rescue” seizure medicine and she wasn’t planning to keep me on it. (Backstory: they had to quickly take me off a different med because it was causing heart issues so they put me on this one.) So she decreased the dose of that medicine and increased the dose of the other one that I take. I had a blood test done last Monday and after she gets those results she will most likely take me off the problem med and switch me to a different one.

So I’m guessing you probably still don’t see the connection to Chutes and Ladders yet. Am I right? You see, I actually haven’t had any seizures since that appointment. 22 days without a seizure- I think that might be my longest streak since all of this started. But it’s almost certain that whenever you are in the middle of a medication change to have some seizures. So I currently feel like I’m sitting nice and pretty on that 85 square just waiting to roll a two whenever I switch and then the counting starts again.

That being said, do you know how nice it is to go 22 days without any seizures???! It’s pretty awesome and I’m so thankful that God has given me this time! I’ll keep you posted (haha, because this is a post…nevermind… 🙂 ) on what He does next!

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2017 in epilepsy

 

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I had a Dream

This may be one of the most personal, open, and honest posts I have ever written and it was hard to write. But I was telling this story to someone last week and it really encouraged them so I thought I would share it here. I should be writing a medical update since I was at Cleveland Clinic on Friday but that will have to wait. 🙂

A while back I was on this medication that caused me to have nightmares. Now before this, I had really not had very many dreams. At all. I rarely ever dreamed, good or bad. But something about this medicine suddenly cause an influx in dreams. They were only bad dreams and they were very, very vivid. The kind that you wake up from in a panic or wake up crying. Sometimes they were so vivid I would wake up and had already jumped halfway out of bed before I realized what was happening. Every night I would climb into bed and pray that I would have no dreams that night.

One night, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was pregnant and gave birth to this tiny little baby. It was so small that I could hold it in my hands only. This is really hard for me to write and some of you are going to think I am crazy, but did you know you can love something in a dream? I don’t know how that’s possible, but I loved that tiny little human in my dream. Shortly after it was born, some soldiers broke into the hospital where I was which was a big room with a bunch of people in it. I was going to spare the details but I think I’m going to tell the complete story. One of the soldiers grabbed the baby from my hands and killed it by stomping on it with his boot. And I woke up crying.

These are the kinds of dreams I mean. I don’t read into dreams or try to interpret them; I just take them as dreams. For days after I would think of that dream and still cry because of the love I felt for that baby. How can you love something in a dream? That’s ridiculous, right? The months went by and the pain of that dream slowly faded until I didn’t think about it anymore. I came off of that medicine, the dreams stopped, and I praised the Lord!

Fast forward to two weeks ago. Suddenly, that dream came to my mind in the middle of the day. And not once, but 4 times that day. And the next day. And the next. And I found myself thinking about it a lot. I prayed and asked God why it was coming to my mind and that he would fill my thoughts with things that were pure and lovely. I would recite Phil. 4:8 every time it came into my head.

One day I was talking with Natalie, just exasperated that I couldn’t figure out why that dream kept coming to mind. She asked if I had been thinking about babies or pregnancy or anything like that. And it suddenly hit me. Like a light bulb moment. I had had one thought a week or so earlier that if I started to date someone, at sometime I was going to have to tell him that I can’t be pregnant.

You see, you can’t be pregnant while on seizure medicine because it almost always causes severe birth defects in the baby. It is still possible to have epilepsy and have babies, you just have to come off your medication and go through a process with your doctor. And while I wasn’t anticipating being pregnant anytime soon, I realized that I hadn’t fully given that desire over to the Lord yet.

It’s odd how God uses stuff in our lives sometimes. How a dream from months before was used to show me an area that I needed to pray about and be at peace with. And the dream has vanished. I haven’t thought about it once since that day. But I am thankful that God used it to bring me to the place where I am now. I don’t plan to be pregnant anytime soon but I am confident in God’s will in that area and will cross that bridge when it arrives and I wasn’t able to say that honestly before.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in contentment

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. 🙂 His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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Stop Reading the Bible

Someone in my life recently challenged me to stop reading the Bible. So I did. About two weeks ago. Hang on; before you grab your copy of God’s Word and come smack me over the head with it, hear me out.

For probably 5-6 years running, I did the Read-Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year thing. I love plans and things that are organized, so it was great. You do your reading for the day and put a nice little check mark beside the line and Bam! you are good to go! Devotions done! And at the end of the year, you feel really accomplished because you have finished the whole Bible! Tada!

But let me ask you something. Have you ever been reading the Bible (or any book, for that matter) and you read a chapter and then realize you have NO IDEA what you just read? You read every word on the page but wouldn’t be able to tell the person sitting next to you what it was about. Yeah, me too. I’m not sure how that happens but it does.

So now let me tell you the second part of what my friend said to me. What he actually said was, “Stop reading the Bible. Start meditating on it.”

There are quite a few passages in the Bible that talk about meditating on God’s Word. The most convicting one for me being Joshua 1:8:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

What would our lives look like if we actually meditated on Scripture instead of just reading it? If we kept it in our minds day and night? It reminds me of how the Israelites were commanded to keep God’s law before their eyes and hearts all the time:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:6-9

I think when we start to meditate on Scripture is when the above passage becomes a reality in our lives. It becomes a normal thing to speak of God and his Word instead of it being something that we do at church. His Word permeates our lives and hearts and we are filled with him.

So my devotions have changed. Instead of reading whole chapters a day, I’ve starting reading a couple verses, sometimes even just one (you do have to keep context in mind.) And I meditate on it. I read it over and over and I pray over that verse. Depending on the verse, I might pray for God to make it a reality in my life or in the lives of my friends and those I love. I pray for God to make his Word clear to me and to keep me in it always. I’m getting so much more out of my devotions now. I find myself thinking about Scripture way more often than I used to.

So my challenge for you also then is this: will you stop reading the Bible?

 

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Devotions

 

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