Category Archives: Musings

15 years in… still learning to trust

Yes, Mark and I have actually been married since the previous millennium.  Wow... how's that for cool!?
Yes, Mark and I have actually been married since the previous millennium. At our reception, we totally partied like it was 1999.  Wait… it was 1999.

Some of you who know me know that my marriage is a big blessing in my life.  I am crazy about my husband, and he would do almost anything for me.  In light of that, something happened recently that surprised and convicted me.

We (meaning Mark) had to rearrange some furniture in our playroom, which left huge piles of toys, junk, tools, etc, scattered across the room in the aftermath.  We had friends coming to stay overnight and knew we needed the room straightened up for them.

Mark had a free half hour and said he would take care of it, and I offered to help.  We quickly realized this was a hard task and that we had different two approaches.  My approach is pretty much always to gather all the junk into big piles in out-of-the-way(ish) places in the room, so our friends could have the bulk of the space free.  His approach is pretty much always to actually organize stuff, find new spots for it, get rid of things as needed, etc.  Yeah, his approach is better… but then again, it takes longer, right?

As we started, he knew I didn’t have much stamina and asked me what my vision for the room was.  I told him I basically wanted stuff piled out of the way.  He nicely asked me if I would ask him what HIS vision was.

Well, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, I didn’t WANT to ask him his vision.  I just wanted him to do MINE.

I kind of knew what his would involve, and I was scared we wouldn’t have the time and that I wouldn’t be able to help make decisions about what to do with stuff (I’m terrible at that).

However, we’ve been at this for fifteen years, so I nervously asked him what his vision was, as he’d kindly requested.

You may be able to guess that his vision was indeed to deal with all this stuff, to put it away properly, and to make the room wonderful for our friends.  He then invited me to go read a book or rest in another room while he rocked it…. and I took him up on his offer.

Not long after, he’d made a beautiful, tidied, more organized space for our out-of-town guests.  Thank you, Mark!

His vision wasn’t to harm me, but to help me.

I was grateful, and I was also convicted that I didn’t really want to trust my serving, others-focused, hard-working, kind, putting-Kristi-first husband of 15 years.  It helped me see that I also don’t really want to trust my good, sovereign, powerful God.  I am nervous about things not going my way and am willing to do a worse job at something, with hasty shortcuts, rather than surrender and sit back and watch God work.  Sometimes His actions seem messy, confusing, unclear, time-consuming, scary.  But isn’t His restoration beautiful?

I don’t want to be unable to walk far or stand long.  I don’t like not knowing His plan for my healing. I don’t desire to be dependent on others.  BUT GOD, in His rich mercy, has plans of redemption beyond my wildest dreams.

Jesus will one day “present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).  Husbands are called to love their wives this same way– I’m thankful for a husband who desires to do that!

Will you surrender your fears and your desire for control and let God work His beauty in you?  Will I?  Let’s do this together.

I love this pre-POTS picture, when Mark let me beat him at a sack race.  He knows I like to win... and I'm pretty excited, even if he let me win!
I love this pre-POTS picture, when Mark let me beat him at a sack race. He knows I like to win… and I’m pretty excited, even if he let me win!

Top Ten List of Blessings from POTS/NCS

Sometimes it’s easy for me to focus on the limitations POTS/NCS causes.  After all, I feel and experience them throughout the day, everyday.

However, I’m also beginning to be able to see more clearly the blessings, yes, true blessings, this illness has brought into my life.

In random order, here is my TOP TEN LIST OF BLESSINGS FROM POTS / NCS:

10.  A more slow-paced lifestyle.  I am beginning to see that maybe I was a little too busy back in the day.

9. More compassion for those who suffer.  I have a long way to go, but I am beginning to truly understand, in some ways.

8. Greater dependence on God.  I need Him every hour.  Literally.

7.  Fewer wrinkles.  How’s that for a perk?  A friend mentioned once that my face looked so great, and I realized my new, low-stress life does seem to be stopping my wrinkles in their tracks.

6. Seeing God at work, actively caring for me and our family.  He has not abandoned us.  (I can’t wait to read the 2015 Blessings Jar on New Year’s Eve.)

5. Our kids seeing Mama can’t do it all and needs their help, thus they are getting good practice serving.  Our oldest son got the CLEANING AWARD at a recent youth group retreat.  (Yikes… hope that wasn’t too embarrassing.) Turns out, he rocked while cleaning their cabin, after meals, etc, maybe partially because all three kids now know their way around some toilet bowl cleaner, dustpans, Windex, you name it.

4. Noncompeting schedules in our marriage, since mine is quite free. (Not a necessity, but I’m enjoying the blessing aspect.)

3. More of my physical presence around the house for my family.  While they’re here, I am not often out and about doing errands, meetings, get-togethers, etc.  I think they really like this. (Ditto, parenthetical statement above.)

2.  Seeing God’s people help in so many ways.  This is a huge encouragement.  After we recently enjoyed a fantastic meal someone brought, I told Mark, “This makes being sick a lot more tolerable.”

1.  Freedom to wear cute shoes that may be too big, too small, or a bit uncomfortable– and not have them wear out– since I don’t walk that much.  Ladies, this is AWESOME!  My shoes always look brand new.  (The scuff marks below are certainly all from previous owners, I’m sure!)

"Kristi, you are so good at arranging your pristine shoes, you should be a display stylist," said no one, ever.
“Kristi, you are so good at arranging your pristine shoes, you should be a display stylist,” said no one, ever.

Hey, when you find a cute pair, it’s nice not to have to worry about pesky details like whether the shoe actually fits!

 

God’s GOT this!

So I was going to do a long-delayed blog post the other day.  I summoned up my remaining shreds of energy, turned on the computer, found a cute picture, and… Internet Explorer would NOT load.  I mean it!  It was not going to open.  I clicked, double-clicked, right-clicked, went thru various menus– NO SOUP FOR YOU! (I mean, no Internet for me!)  I couldn’t get online at all.

Hence, no blog post.

God cracks me up.  For a couple years now, He has been “canceling” things that I put on my agenda. We signed up to host missionaries one weekend– nope, sorry, turned out they have relatives in town.  I tried to sign up to bring a new mom a meal — oh, too bad, turns out the meal plan was either deleted or was unavailable to my eyes only.  We made plans to keep a young couple’s baby so they could have a date.  Oops, surprise, their inlaws showed up in town that afternoon to take the whole family out– no babysitting happening.

One “good” thing after the next that I’ve tried to do has been canceled over the last couple years. I’ve gotten the hint and try to make my own “helpful” plans a lot less often, for this current season.

I truly believe God is telling me, “I’ve got this! I do not need you to do all sorts of things to enact My kingdom purposes.  I love you too much to let you think you can find your worth and identity in DOing.  Just be– be mine.”  (Seriously:  One particular time as I cried out to Him in frustration at being unable to DO, I heard Him respond to my heart, “Kristi! I’VE GOT THIS!”)

I love it. He is helping me surrender teensy bit by teensy bit.

Where do you need to surrender and BE?  Or, where might be God asking you to step out in faith and DO?

“Be Mine” this Valentine’s Day

Sometimes, when you are suffering, you may feel as though God doesn’t love you.  He may seem far off; He may seem to have it in for you; He may seem out of touch with your struggles.

What if, though, your suffering is a sign NOT of His lack of love for you, BUT of His GREAT LOVE for you?  What if God loves you so much that He decides for suffering to enter your life so that He can draw you close to Him, so that He can wean you from the siren calls of this world and open your eyes to the greater call of His plan?

Will He help you say, with Paul, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11)?  We do not serve a God who is unfamiliar with suffering but One whose earthly purpose in life included suffering out of obedience, that He might reunite us with the Father.

I love how Laura Story captures some of this thinking in her song “Blessings.”

Even more, though, I love “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go.”  I have, many times, put this song on repeat and just blasted it.  I hope it encourages you– I love these two verses in particular:

O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

This has been, for years, one of my funeral songs– you know, a song you want sung at your funeral.  If you have a funeral song, what is it?

Where do you see God’s love in the midst of the sadness, the loneliness, the injustice, the horror?

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:18-19)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

And joyfully encouraged this Christmas; or, I get by with a little help from my friends

I noticed something different this year as I read the Scriptures surrounding Christ’s birth.  You know the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise after she finds out she’s been chosen to bear the Holy One of Israel?  I tend to picture the angel Gabriel telling her of God’s plan, her submissive assent, then the Magnificat.

But, no, the Magnificat comes AFTER she goes to see her relative, Elisabeth, to share her news– and she had gone to see her “with haste.”  Think how quickly you go to someone after shocking news.  Surely, even after she submits graciously, Mary is feeling overwhelmed, thrown off, curious about how her new, unusual call will play out.  I felt encouraged this year by the friendship between the two women, how Elisabeth’s excitement about Mary’s call helps Mary burst forth in her own genuine praise and excitement.  Her song of worship focuses on God’s character and promises, and she actively trusts him.

You may be called to something hard right now, something glorious, or a combination of both.  The illness God has given me feels like a hard call, but it is one that can lead me to worship and thanksgiving.  THANK YOU to you, my friends and readers, who have encouraged me throughout 2014 and before, that I might turn my eyes upon Jesus and praise Him mightily.

May your Christmas be merry as you celebrate our Savior’s birth, as God took on flesh and dwelt among us!

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Sweet mercy

Well, my posts have slowed down a bit recently, partly because I have had worse headaches these days.  I am hoping it’s just a temporary blip and do not want to relive the two years of horrendous, horrible headaches I experienced while I was coming down with POTS.

In the meantime, I have something encouraging to tell you.  One recent morning, when I woke up with a horrendous, horrible headache, I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d make it through the day, or really, the hour, with that awful feeling in addition to all the ramifications of POTS & NCS.  I begged God to take my headache away, and in His sweet mercy, He did.  From Jan 2012-Jan 2014, I begged God to take my headaches away, and in His sweet mercy, He did not.

I realized that even if the horrendous, horrible headaches return in full force, God IS faithful.  God IS good.  He will NOT abandon me.  He WILL care for me and provide for me tenderly and lovingly even in the midst.

A friend sent me these hymn lyrics.  Enjoy!

“Without that sweet mercy, I could not live here

Sin would reduce me to utter despair

But through thy sweet goodness my spirits revive,

and He that first made me still keeps me alive.”

Where do you see God’s sweet mercy?

Blessings in a jar

Our family has been writing down blessings to put in a Mason jar on our counter this year.  I love it because 1) we are sometimes fussy and complaining, and it’s good to look at our many blessings; 2) we sometimes enjoy blessings… but then forget them; 3) we love looking back and being reminded of God’s active provision.

blessings

After all, how would we remember that Luke was “tankful that I saw A DEER” bounding from the woods as we were driving through Vicksburg Military Park one dewy, green summer morning?  How would we know that in 2014, Ella was thankful for crackers?  We love rejoicing with David that we had a car on 6/22/14 (and still do!– a huge blessing we sometimes take for granted).  And, yes, we are all rejoicing that a community group from our church just let us know they have decided to adopt us and bring us dinner once a week!  YEAH!

Your life may be really difficult right now… but I bet there are a few blessings around you that help point to God’s goodness.  (One of my blessings today was that, for lunch, I got to eat a hot bowl of leftover soup outside in our leaf-covered backyard.)  Your life may be fabulous right now… and I bet there are a few blessings around you that you’ll want to remember.

“Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither, by Thy help I’ve come!”  (What am I talking about?  Ebenezer can be traced back to 1 Samuel 7, when Samuel took a stone and named it Ebenezer to commemorate God helping the Israelites defeat the Philistines.  The word itself means “Stone of Help.” And, no, I didn’t just happen to know that… thank you, Google!)  I’ve seen people write their blessings with a Sharpie on small stones, to fill up a bowl– love that idea!  How do you like to celebrate and remember blessings?  What blessings do you have today?

15 years later… you’d never guess

Wow…. lives change so much, and I am so glad I serve a sovereign God!  This past weekend was my 15th reunion from college.  What a treat to see old friends and favorite professors.

You’d never guess, looking back, that I’d go to my 15th reunion in a wheelchair… but pushed around by an adoring husband and three small blessings.

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You’d never guess I wouldn’t be able to do a whole lot… or that I’d start loving and craving the beauty of surrender.

You’d never guess I wouldn’t be able to work at a “real” job… or that I’d have so much time to pray.

You’d never guess I’d spend such time grieving… or that I’d begin learning to enter into the sufferings of others.

You’d never guess I’d need so much down time… or that God would winsomely call me to enjoy Him in a deeper way.

How has your life gone differently than you thought?  Have you experienced blessings for which you can give thanks?  Have you experienced loss and suffering through which you can give thanks?  The thanks are not easy now, and grief– anger, denial, sadness — is real.  Jesus didn’t rejoice when Lazarus died or when He faced hearts of unbelief, but He did trust His Father’s plan.  We can’t drum up trust– but the Holy Spirit can generously give it.

I love Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts, below:

“In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone.

“Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!

“There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein!

“When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time.”

Is it enough?

So we DID have a great time at the mountains, but I also poked fun at my difficulties on our recent mountain getaway with my Mountain Getaway DOs and DON’Ts for POTSies list.  In reality, though, my limitations during traveling are a huge loss to me.  I have always loved to travel, and now it is much harder– don’t you always want to be in your own bed when you feel sick?

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Thanks to very generous friends, we have gone to the same mountain cabin several years in a row.  Last year, we went for my husband’s birthday, and I was grouchy and irritable, because with my new illness, I couldn’t hike, go down to the river, cook him a special birthday meal, or do much of anything. I prayed this year that God would help me be grateful for the many blessings of the trip.

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This time, though, I was sad– sad that I was stuck inside while my family explored the woods and creek.  It is good and right to grieve our losses in this life.  I am learning what that can look like.

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God broke into my thoughts, though, as I was looking at the yellow-tipped trees from the comfort of the quilt-covered bed.  I thought about how Mark and I love to make our kids happy and love to give them a wonderful life… but we don’t want our kids to have everything they want.  We intentionally deny them, at times, that new gadget, that kind-faced doll, the right-now shoes, not because those things are bad or because we don’t love our kids, but because we DO love them, because we want them to find their hope elsewhere.  We shower them with many things, many blessings… but not every blessing.  This world will not satisfy them, and any parent knows he or she cannot completely satisfy a child, no matter how many gifts that child receives.

And you know what?  I am another of those kids who can’t quite be satisfied.  A trip to the mountains is restorative… but it’s not enough. A warm, beautiful cabin with cable TV is pretty fabulous… but it’s not enough. And if I COULD hike, if I COULD stand on the bridge and throw rocks into the creek, I know that wouldn’t be enough either.  It would be fun, it would be a blessing, I would be grateful (I hope), but it wouldn’t be enough.

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I need Jesus, and as the sunlight filtered through the trees to my spot under the covers, He reached down to me with me His presence.  He will not abandon me, and He longs to be in relationship with me, His often-unsatisfiable child.  Amazing love!  How can it be?

Where do you look to be filled up?

Ridiculous trust

You all are probably getting the impression that I like to DO, and you are right.  As I was getting sicker and sicker in 2012 and 2013, I slowly began to stop DOing.  I stopped freelance work, then stopped helping with a Bible study and community group at church.  I stopped picking up our kids from school, then eventually, for a time, saw most of my at-home jobs (cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc) come to a halt.  I just physically couldn’t do.

I remember multiple times crying out to God, “What should I DO?”  I didn’t know where to go or who I was, in some ways, without the ability to do.  I also didn’t know how I could live out my call with so little I could seemingly do.

I remember God impressing upon me, “Trust Me.  Just trust Me.”

Trust?  Isn’t that too easy? Couldn’t that be a copout?  Doesn’t that take absolute surrender and acknowledgment of my dependence?  Where’s the DOing?

A friend of mine has felt called to persevere in a particular frustrating, discouraging, difficult marriage situation.  She told me she really thought God wanted her to stay with it, but that it felt completely ridiculous to do so.  She spent the better part of a year studying the Bible to find all the ridiculous things God has had His people do.   Noah building that ark was absurd.  Moses keeping his hands raised during battle probably isn’t a time-tested war strategy.  Elijah probably felt completely ridiculous eating food brought to him by ravens.

To me, “just” trusting can seem a bit ridiculous…. But isn’t the wisdom of this world sometimes foolishness to God (1 Cor. 3:19)?  Doesn’t God sometimes choose what is foolish and weak to shame the world’s wise and strong (1 Cor. 1:7)?

What ridiculous thing is God calling you to right now?