Tag 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!

An Easter encounter

Have you ever met an angel?  I don’t know if I have, but I did experience an extraordinary encounter last Easter.

My family and I went to a beautiful city park last Easter during the afternoon.  My husband parked my wheelchair near some stone benches, while he and the kids explored the nearby rocks and boulders.  A man, who’d been sitting nearby, approached me to ask how long I’d been using the wheelchair and why.  “Oh, boy,” I thought, “here we go.”  I often end up getting comments and advice, and I had hoped for some quiet relaxation in the sun, rather than “helpful” tips from a stranger.

This man, though, didn’t try to fix me or my situation but revealed that he was no stranger to suffering.  He had been in a car accident that had broken a number of his bones, and he’d stopped using a wheelchair just months before.  He went on to tell me that he’d been celebrating Easter with his wife and kids over lunch when a friend called with a car emergency.  He drove across town, helped the friend, and was headed back home to his family when he sensed God directing him to stop at this park, because God had someone he should speak to.  He thought I was that person.

“Oh, great,” I thought, “now I’m really in for it,” leery of the questionable theology I feared would soon come out of his mouth.  At the same time, though, I was a bit intrigued.

The man, who had an Old Testament name I’ve forgotten, went on to tell me of God’s love for me, as revealed in the Scriptures.  This man did NOT assure me of physical healing to come soon.  He did NOT berate me for a lack of faith that surely brought on my illness.  He simply told me he knew God wanted him to speak of God’s love specifically for me on that day.

My husband, who’d been keeping an eye on all this, walked over to join us, and the man prayed for all of us, then left the park to head home to his family.

Wow.  I don’t know what that encounter was all about, but I do believe that man truly was a follower of Jesus, as I am.  I also believe God DID prompt him to come talk to me that Easter Sunday, to share hope and truth.  This man couldn’t have known that I have at times struggled to believe that God loves me, Kristi, personally and specifically.

How precious that the God of the universe would ordain for one of His children to seek out another, to share the enormity of the love we were both celebrating that Easter Sunday.  God does so love the world, but He also loves just ME, all by myself, and just YOU.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

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Have you ever made resurrection rolls? We love wrapping the Jesus marshmallow in the crescent roll tomb, then after baking them, taking a bite to find an empty tomb!
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And here are the kids on Easter 2015!

All thy sorrows soon shall end

Who, as I have, has ever felt comfortless, sorrowful, and afraid?  Who feels alone, lost, and broken?

Someone Else knows just what that is like.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  Tomorrow is Good Friday, and it is so good, because of something so bad.  Our High Priest bore wrath, agony, trials, abandonment, betrayal, that His children might not have those things poured out on us for eternity.

I came across these prayer cards, filled out by the kids last year on Easter.  Their prayers WILL be mightily answered one day!
I came across these prayer cards, filled out by the kids last year on Easter. Their prayers WILL be mightily answered one day!

I’ve had the following lyrics taped on my kitchen window for a long time now, and I hope they will encourage you.  They are two of the verses in John Newton’s “Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart.”

Fear thou not, nor be ashamed,
All thy sorrows soon shall end.
I who heaven and earth have framed,
Am thy husband and thy friend.
I the High and Holy One,
Israel’s GOD by all adored,
As thy Savior will be known,
Thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

Though afflicted, tempest-tossed,
Comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart.
All thy walls I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew,
And in thee it shall appear,
What a God of love can do.

Happy Easter from us to you!  (No, I'm not ahead of the game.  I have no idea what anyone will be wearing Sunday, but enjoy a 2014 pic!)
Happy Easter from us to you! (No, I’m not ahead of the game. I have no idea what anyone will be wearing Sunday, but enjoy a 2014 pic!)

Take a few minutes these next few days to meditate and worship.  And, most of all, I dare you to HOPE.  Easter is coming.

And let's be honest:  A pic of just the kids is way cuter.
And let’s be honest: A pic of just the kids is way cuter.

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!

 

A little taxed…. but no more!

Several of you far-flung blog readers have checked on me recently in my posting absence.  Thank you!  I am glad to report I am here, doing about the same as I have been.  Really, I only have one thing to blame for my silence:  TAXES.  However, I am proud to report that as of Saturday, I completed our taxes; I took them to the post office this morning; and now they are a thing of the past!

I have mentioned before that I have limited physical energy to spend; I also have limited mental energy. Doing our taxes took weeks for me, as I had teeny little chunks of mental-energy times to work on them little by little. (Plus, time on the computer makes me feel worse, so it was mostly limited to tax-doing.) I know I’m not alone in taxes taking forever, but the mental-energy thing feels a bit different. For example, I recently agreed to help our community swimming pool with a small aspect of membership: I spend 30-60 minutes a week on it, and it feels like I’m maxed out. (And no, the word “minutes” wasn’t a typo for “hours”!) In this picture, I’m organizing a drawer stuffed with papers from the past six months or so, and it will take me several days to do it.

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I’m certainly not alone in things taking forever– those of you working, caring for others, volunteering, homeschooling, single parenting, homemaking, or doing any number of things only have limited time for many things.  It just feels strange for things to take so long when I have so much time!  But in some ways, I don’t really mind that all this takes a while (having little ones in the house all day, every day for years gave me some experience with slow-task-completion that I know many of you mamas are still dealing with!); however, I just need to make sure I keep my schedule pretty clear so it doesn’t get overwhelmed. This is a stark contrast to the full, fast-paced life I used to have!

By the way, did you know that people with POTS tend to have been high achievers before they became ill? Strange but true (at least anecdotally– but occurring often enough to be mentioned in Mayo Clinic literature on POTS commonalities). I’ve also read that people with POTS tend to be women, often tall and on the trim side, often fair-skinned with blue eyes.  Sounds familiar! Hmmm… maybe I should work on my tan this summer, fill up on junk food, get colored contacts, be sure to wear flats, and it’ll all be a thing of the past.

Do you like doing taxes? I actually don’t mind too much, especially when we get a little refund! Anyone getting a refund this year and doing something fun with it?

“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!

Reluctantly meek this Christmas

We love to do Advent readings every morning in preparation for celebrating Christ’s birth.  Thanks to our friend P., who put together a book of gorgeous pictures and Scriptures to help us!

How a person with POTS puts a Christmas tree up: the kids do it.  Just joking!  My husband rocked it, but friends decorated the mantel and table, addressed Christmas cards, shopped, and wrapped for me!
How a person with POTS puts a Christmas tree up: the kids do it. Just joking! My husband rocked it, but friends decorated the mantel and table, addressed Christmas cards, shopped, and wrapped for me!

One recent morning, we read Isaiah 11 and part of verse 4 struck me:  “He shall… decide with equity for the meek of the earth.”  POTS and NCS have rendered me reluctantly meek, at least sometimes.  I can no longer freely assert my will, as I formerly (thought I) could.   I will be honest and tell you that my illness-induced meekness has been orchestrated by God and not particularly chosen by me.  Our Savior, however, CHOSE to obey and put on humility, taking on the very form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2).

I admit:  I don’t really want to have someone else fill my plate at the party (yes to meatballs! no to cheeseballs!)– but when I am unable to stand that long, I must submit.  I don’t really want to be pushed in a wheelchair through TJ Maxx (yes to longer in the home section! no to knock-off hairsprays!)– but since being upright can bring on fainting, there we go.  I don’t really want to miss evening Christmas parties due to extreme fatigue— but I need to surrender to rest to have spoons (energy) for afternoon merriment (can I just pretend homework = merriment?) with the kids.

Now, I may be stretching that interpretation a little, and that may not be the traditional definition of meekness, but that verse spoke to me that God will work out His good will, and I don’t need to be worried about being left out of it.  I am missing out on some earthly fun, for sure, but He calls me to submit to Him, for my good…  and for His glory.

How a person with POTS cooks Christmas breakfast-- a stool is key!
How a person with POTS cooks Christmas breakfast– a stool is key!

Where do you long for God to decide with equity?

 

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.

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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?