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The Art of Being an Old Lady

I love old people. I mean, I pretty much have to, considering the age my Dad is getting to be. Ha! I can’t wait till he reads this!

But seriously, old people are the cutest. Plus, they have a huge advantage over most of the population. Let me explain. Have you ever noticed that old people can pretty much say whatever they want (which is sometimes what everyone is thinking but doesn’t think it’s socially acceptable to say) and they get away with it?? For example, an old person that you may never have met can (and will) outright ask your relationship status in front of a group of people AND proceed to give you all sorts of advice OR set you up with a family member of theirs. Your initial thought will probably be that it’s not really any of their business but then something will click in the back of your head and whether consciously or not, your brain will tell you, “Oh don’t worry about it; it’s an old person and they can say whatever they want.”

What??! Why? And how do I get that status?? I can’t wait to be old. I’m sneakily storing up all sorts of embarrassing things to say and do- does anyone know the official “old” age?? I want to be extra prepared when I reach it.

I’ve been thinking about old people recently because I’ve been feeling old (but without the perks because I don’t think I’ve reached that magical age yet.) I’ve been tired a lot but that’s not what makes me feel old. I really feel like I’m losing my memory and it’s actually pretty sad for me. If you ask anyone, I used to have the best memory in the world. At my old job, I remembered everything. From long and strange passwords, to people’s names and faces, to things that I never should have known but somehow it got stuck in my head. People were always asking me if I knew such and such or if I knew where something of theirs was, even though there was no way I should know. And most times, I did.

But not now. A few weeks ago at work, I was learning how to make all the food for the hot lunch we offer. I had about 9 pans in the oven at once so it was a lot of multi-tasking. At one point, the lady teaching me had a pan of meat and I watched as she put a little bit of water in the bottom and then she was showing me how to put the sauce on the meat. By the time she had finished, I looked in the pan and said, “Now did you put water in there or is that just grease from the meat?” She looked at me kind of funny and that’s when I realized I had literally watched her put that water in less than 2 minutes before.

I’ve found that now I have to keep track of things a lot more whereas before I could just rely on my memory for everything. For instance, I rarely used to put things on my calendar because I just always remembered my schedule. NOPE. Doesn’t work that way now. EVERYTHING must go in my phone because I can’t trust my memory. I used to know the birthdays of my family members AND all the kids I babysat and now I have to sit and calculate my Mom and Dad’s ages (good thing I still remember what years they were born!) I used to keep my shopping list in my memory- bahahahahaha! That seems like a joke. I could be getting 2 things from the store and I would still need to put them in my phone to remember them.

Do you know how frustrating and sad this is?? I guess I didn’t really think that the memory loss part of epilepsy would happen to me. What I mean to say is, I pretty much FORGOT about it! I have so much more respect and patience for old people now! You need to ask me the same question 3 times because you can’t remember? You go right ahead! At the same time, once again, people expect that from an old person and they give a little bit of extra grace. But they don’t expect it from me. I started to notice how bad it was when my best friend would call me at night and ask how my day was, and I really couldn’t remember what I had done. So I would give a general answer and when she wanted specifics, I would have to really really think. It’s like my brain used to be a nice filing system and someone has gone in and dumped out all the folders and now I have to sift through them to find what I’m looking for.

So if you ask me how my week has been and I look confused and like I’m searching for an answer, I probably am. I’m trying to remember, literally, what happened this week.

Please give some patience while I try to figure it out.

And maybe a hint or two would be nice.

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Dealing with Chronic Headaches

One of my co-workers walked by me and said, “Ugh, I have this headache today and it just won’t go away.” As he turned away to grab something, I literally had to clamp my mouth shut because the words, “Uhhh… I don’t want to hear it.” almost came out. After I redirected my thoughts and attitude, I said, “Aw man, I’m sorry. That really stinks, doesn’t it?”

What he doesn’t know is that I have had constant daily headaches for almost 2 years now. What does that mean? It means every single day I wake up with my head hurting and I go to bed with it hurting. The pain varies in intensity but it’s always there. There are things I know that make it worse such as: caffeine, sugar, lots of stress, exercise, social gatherings, loud noises, and the list goes on…and a few things that help such as: sleep, massages, and dark places. They aren’t migraines (I’ve had a few of those and boy are they terrible!) but more of a constant pressure with sharp pains here and there. I sometimes say that it would feel so much better if I could just poke a hole in my head to let out all the extra air that must be up there. So that being said, sometimes I can really relate to others with headaches and sometimes I have to remind myself to be compassionate.

Over the last couple months, since my seizures have stopped, I’ve been kind of holding out, hoping the headaches would dissolve too. But slowly, the thought has been growing on me that they might not go away. I hadn’t really considered that before, but veeerrrry slowly, God gave me grace to accept the idea that that may be the case. I started thinking of how I was supposed to adapt my life to these headaches, instead of sitting around waiting for them to leave. I’m not really a newbie to chronic pain (I’ve had back issues since I was about 11) but headaches somehow affect more of your life than other pain. They are exhausting in addition to the pain.

However, my neurologist and best friend have wanted me to see one of the headache specialists at Cleveland Clinic for a long time now so I finally agreed and went last week. Looking back it has occurred to me that as I prayed about the appointment, I never really prayed for him to have answers. I really just prayed that he would be a kind and compassionate person and that prayer was certainly answered. He sat and listened to me for over an hour and asked a lot of questions. He acknowledged how painful and frustrating these sort of headaches can be. He also admitted that they are very difficult to diagnose and are usually very resistant to treatment. I wasn’t a huge fan of being put on a medicine that he wasn’t sure would work and the side effects were tiredness and dizziness (I deal with enough of those!) so he gave me some natural supplements to try instead. I didn’t really feel disappointed or excited after the appointment because I hadn’t had any expectations for it anyway.

But now that it’s been confirmed that the headaches probably aren’t going away (short of a miracle from the Lord), I realize how many of my favorite activities are affected and how I didn’t really think this was going to be a long-term deal. I found myself stuck in a “What-if” rut the other day. Have you ever been there? I thought I was already surrendered to the idea of chronic pain but things like this started to run through my head: But what if I never run again without my head feeling like it’s going to explode? What if I can’t ever make it through a whole evening with my friends like I used to? What if I can’t sit and read for hours on end like I want to? What if helping out in nursery at church will always hurt my head this much?

Ha! And here I thought I was completely at peace with the whole idea! Again and again I countered those thoughts with the same verse: Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Cor. 12:8-9

To be honest, some days I don’t understand how God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, how everything is working out for my good, how I can count it all joy, or how light momentary affliction leads to an eternal weight of glory. BUT I do know that these are the promises I fully believe and cling to. It is SO helpful for me to remember that Paul also was afflicted with something and asked God to take it away and the answer was no!

And like Paul I need to learn that his grace is completely sufficient.

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Comparing Prayers

The other day during my devotions I was searching for a particular verse in Psalms and my eyes glanced over this verse instead:

O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.” Ps. 54:2

I didn’t really think much of it until I was scanning again and came across this one:

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!” Ps. 55:1

And then, honestly, the thought that flashed into my head was something along the lines of, “Why in the world does David ask God to hear his prayer? That’s so weird. Doesn’t he know that God is there with him?” Verses on God’s omnipresence and promises to hear us flooded my mind. There may have been a silent scoff in my head.

So I became a little curious and started looking up verses JUST in the Psalms on asking God to hear and very quickly was overwhelmed. There are so many! To name a few: Ps. 4:1, 61:1, 5:1-12, 130:1, 102:1, 143:1-6. In fact, it almost seemed that most of David’s prayers started out that way.

Suddenly I realized my arrogance in contrast to David’s humility. Of course he knew that God was omnipresent. Who couldn’t know that and still write Psalm 139?? I think David simply had an understanding of who he was and who he was praying to. How dare he (I) assume that the God of the universe would attend to his every summon like a genie in a lamp? So he asked.

That was such a bizarre thought to me. I don’t think I’ve ever asked God to hear my prayer before. Have you? Since looking all those verses up though, a lot of my prayers have started out like David’s. I know it’s not mandatory, but it’s a very simple, humble, and dependent way to start out my prayer time.

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in prayer

 

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Recent Thoughts on Bologna

Bologna has got to be one of the most disgusting deli meats around. I just don’t understand why people buy it. Why, with all the other good meat out there, would you stare into a deli case and decide, “Hmmm, well that bologna sure looks good! I think I’ll take a pound of that.”?? It’s kind of slimy and it smells weird and doesn’t taste good. MAYBE…if you have to eat it…you can fry it and make it edible.

You may ask where all these seemingly random thoughts on bologna are coming from? Some of you probably know that right before Christmas my doctor cleared me for work again. Although I’ve still been very tired and have constant headaches, I haven’t had any seizures since December 9th (Praise Jesus!) and so she gave me the ok to work as long as it wasn’t anything dangerous. When I asked for clarification, she told me not to go out and decide to be a lifeguard or anything like that. OH, ok.

However, with the privilege to drive still months off, my options were pretty limited. So I applied at a local, family-owned, IGA grocery store that is a 3 minute walk from my apartment and was hired right away. I’m currently part time because I wanted to start out slowly and see how it goes but he will bump my hours up as soon as I say the word.

At this store, each employee is moved from department to department so you pretty much get to work everywhere. I’ve worked in the meat room on grinding and packing, I’ve been cashier, AND in the deli. Which brings me back to bologna.

Did you know that bologna is actually one of the hardest deli meats to slice?? It is VERY slippery and so when it hits the blade, the whole meat tries to spin and instead of a clean slice of meat you get a shred of bologna. Turns out, no one in the deli really likes to slice bologna because it is hard. I found this out my very first day in the deli and promptly named that horrible meat my nemesis. But I thought to myself that surely not very many people actually order that stuff with all the other great deli meat that we sell.

Well, one day last week, it just so happened that I was in the deli all by myself because we were a little short on staff. It was probably only my third time ever working in there. The first person of the day comes to the counter and I cheerfully ask, “What can I get for you?” What do you think he said? A pound of Eckrich bologna. I had to clamp my mouth shut before something popped out like “Seriously??” or “Are you sure?” I gave a very fake smile as I pulled the meat out of the case and carefully unwrapped it, looking desperately around for someone to help me out of this situation.

It was as I was standing there trying not to drop a huge hunk of slippery bologna on the floor that I prayed what seemed to me the silliest prayer ever: “Lord, please help me slice this bologna. Please don’t let it shred.”

Did you know that slicing deli meat is actually very nerve wracking? Some people are very particular as to the thickness of their meat and they stand there and watch you with every slice. I placed the bologna on the machine, still praying, and turned it on. My first slice came out so perfect that I cried out loud, “Haha! Thank you, Jesus!” like a little girl. I’m not quite sure what my customer thought but I kept praying as I sliced and I only had one that shredded. Whew. I felt like I had run a marathon.

All that to say a couple things: 1. No prayer is silly and prayer does work. 2. Next time you are at the deli, do yourself and the employee a favor and order some salami instead.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in work

 

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The Pollyanna Project

I used to love the movie Pollyanna. As kids we would go over to my Aunt Tammy’s (who shares a very similar taste in movies as me) house and that was the movie I always picked to watch. I think it was probably her optimism that I liked the most. I was always an optimist and loved that about Pollyanna.

For those of you who (gasp!) haven’t seen the movie or read the book, Pollyanna is an orphan who comes to live with her strict aunt and somehow manages to find the good in every situation and person. She plays this game called “The Glad Game” and no matter what position you put her in, she will find something to be glad about. Of course she has some trouble at one point but I’m going to let you watch the movie and find that out for yourself!

So the other day, I had too much time on my hands to think and thoughts were creeping in about all the things I missed in life and wanted back. I found myself complaining inside. I was getting frustrated, uneasy, and unhappy and finally I had had enough of it. I sat down with a notebook and wrote out every single thing I missed from my ‘old life.’ Every thing I wished was different. Every thing I wasn’t content with. It was almost a full notebook sheet. Things like:

“I miss being able to drive”

“I miss working at the Farm”

“I wish I always felt a passion for devotions and prayer”

And then I turned the page. And for each line on the previous page, I wrote a very specific corresponding thing I was thankful for on the new page:

“I am thankful for so many friends who give me rides”

“I am thankful for my time at the Farm and that I still see my Farm family”

“I am thankful God’s Word is alive and working and he hears me when I pray”

Just like Pollyanna, I came to a point where I sat and stared at one line for a long time, unable to think of anything to be thankful for. Finally, I simply wrote, “I am thankful for salvation.” I’m glad when all else fails that I can always fall back on that and be utterly thankful and grateful for it.

Do you know what I did next? I tore out the first page and threw it away. I’ve done this same thing again since then and you know what I am left with? Pages of thankfulness. Reminders of God’s grace and goodness towards me. It may seem like a silly or simple thing to do but it really has helped. I’m calling it the Pollyanna Project (because who doesn’t like alliteration?).

We have so much to be thankful for, whether it’s big or small things. We just need to take the time to see them and express our thanks.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in thanksgiving

 

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A Parched Mollusk

Today I have the very special opportunity to share a story with you from my best friend. She wrote this up a week or so ago and has such a talent for communicating so I asked if I could post it. I hope it blesses you as it did me.

IMG_2047“So, how can I tell if it’s alive?” I questioned a stranger on the beach. “Hmm, splash a little water on it and see if it moves.” the stranger offered as she walked toward me. She drew in closer as I scooped a handful of cold ocean water into the shell. I caught this quick picture as the mollusk poked out of his shell. “O yah, it’s alive!” she exclaimed in her Wisconsin accent. “It’s just been out of the water for a while. I like to throw ’em back in and give ’em a second chance.” she said pointing at the water. I nodded in agreement and tossed the little guy back into the ocean.

This simple interaction sparked a life-giving conversation that moved me to tears.

You see, that morning I went to the beach feeling much like that stranded mollusk. Spiritually parched and so far away from God’s life-giving, soul-refreshing, Living Water. Feeling and looking rather dead and hiding from the light. Not that I didn’t KNOW or BELIEVE in God’s goodness and the fact that he is my source of life… it’s just I hadn’t FELT that abundant life in a long time.

While certain circumstances played a big part in feeling spiritually drained, the bigger culprits were sin issues and neglecting time with the Lord. Since my work is in a Christian ministry, I felt like I had to conjure up the appearance of spiritual vitality. I was exhausted from trying to keep up the facade while my heart was withering inside.

That week I was on a trip to Florida and had designated that day as my “Jesus” day. I was going to ignore my phone and other distractions and just focus on resuscitating my relationship with the Lord. In the past, I found spending time outdoors and acknowledging God’s hand in nature to be great faith-builders for me.

I decided to wake up early that morning and go for a walk on the beach to spend time in creation. As I got ready in my hotel room, I begged God to show himself to me that day. Like so many of my previous prayers, I felt like it fell on deaf ears and I was just talking to the wall.

As I walked toward the beach, the cold ocean air whipped through my hoodie and I wished I had stayed in bed. When I got to the beach I looked around and forced myself to come up with praises. (Not the right attitude, I know.) My heart said, “God you are so powerful that you control the tides.” Then my head butted in and said, “The moon controls tides, you dummy!” So my heart responded, “God, I’m so thankful for your control over ALL things!” Then my head came back with, “God if you are in control of all things then why can’t you fix…?” Ugh, not a very good start.

With a conflicted spirit, I reached down to pick up the little conch shell and noticed Sherry, who was walking several paces behind me.

We were two of only a handful of people willing to brave the 40 degree weather on the beach that morning. After tossing the mollusk back into the ocean, we started walking along the beach together.

Almost instantly she brought up her church and we started talking about faith. I learned that she grew up in church, but had fallen away a few times before returning the final time decades ago. She shared about her love for Compassion International, her passion for serving young adults in her church, and her interest in traveling. When she mentioned a life-altering career change to follow God’s leading, we talked about the blessings and sacrifices of the Christian life. I can’t even remember everything we talked about, but the conversation flowed so easily, it felt as if we had known each other for years.

For nearly two hours we walked along the beach together: gathering shells, tossing back mollusks, and talking about life. I found myself opening up to her about details of my life I don’t usually even share with friends. Her honesty, wisdom, and kind encouragement felt like cool water to my thirsty soul. What she was saying resonated so much with me that I felt like her words were a direct answer to my prayers.

As we neared the end of the walk, we hesitated, almost wishing we had more beach to walk and more time to talk. We both acknowledged what a mutual blessing it was to spend that brisk January morning together and felt God had ordained us to meet. Sherry gave me a big hug and we prayed together before a final farewell.

When Sherry first met me, I was that lowly mollusk that had been out of God’s life-giving water for far too long. With her encouragement from the Lord, she gave me a second chance by tossing me back into God’s great ocean of Living Water.

As I walked alone on the road back to my hotel, tears streamed down my face. For the first time in a long time I didn’t just KNOW and BELIEVE, I FELT the love and the presence of God in a real way. God had answered my prayer in a way I didn’t expect and I still don’t fully understand.

My revived soul spent the rest of that day soaking up God’s Word, talking with the Lord, and worshiping him. Only this time it wasn’t forced or conflicted, his praises came overflowing out of the abundance of joy in my heart.

Praise God!

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 68:1

~Natalie Frueh

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in encouragment

 

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When it Rains

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every single thing manages to go exactly as you want it to? Where you get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, work runs smoothly, devotions are deep, your family is well, you get together with friends, and you end the week doing whatever your favorite end-of-week activity is? Yeah, me either. And this week is definitely not one of those weeks. Let me tell you about it.

On Tuesday, I found out that one of my very good family friends from PA had had a stroke. She is only in her forties I believe and a pretty active and healthy person so I was really shocked. Praise God, she has recovered very quickly and is expected to keep doing so but it was still hard to take in.

On Wednesday, our church got the news that one of our dear elders had been taken to the ER for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. They had just gotten the diagnosis that day and needed to start treatment right away. As we were told, I looked katty-korner to the pew in front of me and saw his sweet, elderly mom sitting there with red and teary eyes. As I gave her a tight hug, I couldn’t even find any words to say. We just cried together.

And on Thursday, as I sat in a ladies Bible study I got a text that told me one of our campers from Insight camp (for kids who are blind or visually impaired) had passed away on Sunday. He was 15 and one of the sweetest guys- always had a smile for everyone.

Gosh this life is too much for me to handle. Sometimes the weight of everything really gets me down. And last night I realized I was struggling to hold onto Jesus and that’s when I remembered that isn’t what happens. He holds onto me. My aunt sent me this song a few months ago and as I listen to it, God calms my heart and reminds me that he is my strength, not me.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in encouragment

 

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