Friday, July 19, 2013

My Not So Invisible Wounds

I have lupus and today was a bad day. I am incredibly fortunate in that I don't have as many bad days as many people living with lupus have... but today was one of them. Today, swollen lymph nodes in my neck and chest are causing me extreme tightness, pain, and excessive crabbiness. OK... maybe the crabbiness is MY fault, but it was definitely lupus induced. Pain does that to me, sometimes. As I sat in my chair this evening, rubbing my neck, I felt the swelling and the inflammation and reflected on the general I've-been-hit-with-a-baseball-bat feeling that consumed my entire body. I felt like such a mess. I got up slowly and headed to my bedroom to change. I took a look in the mirror and thought how strange it is that there is absolutely ZERO signs of what is causing me so much pain. You can't see lupus. You can't see internal inflammation. Even where my doctor rubbed vigorously on my chest to help drain a clogged lymph node until the pain became so intense I stopped breathing, there's no bruise. Nothing. Nobody can see my pain. People walking by me have no idea what I've been through today, no inclination of the pain I'm going to be in while I try to sleep tonight, no clue what tomorrow will hold for me and my messed up body. The thought crossed my mind that maybe people with invisible wounds need to wear a hat that says, "I HAVE _______. I HURT. PLEASE BE NICE TO ME." You know, on a whole, we live in a society that helps people they know are hurting. We hold the door for someone in a wheel chair. We offer to carry a lunch tray for someone with a cast on their arm. We're mindful of physical disabilities and injuries... well, at least the ones that we see.

You know where I'm going with this.

We all have injuries that go unnoticed. We have rebellious teenagers. We have deployed husbands. We have broken relationships. We have disappointing friendships. We have financial problems, family problems, health problems, self-esteem problems, eating problems, schedule problems, work problems, and addiction problems. We have things that nobody else knows about. Ugly things. Painful things. Sometimes we all want to scream, "I HURT. PLEASE BE NICE TO ME!!!"

Friend, I want to remind you, that God sees you. He sees your pain. He sees your problem. Whether your neck is swollen, your heart is broken, your wallet is empty, or your life is lonely... God is there. Your wounds are not invisible. Your tears are not unnoticed. God knows the weight of the load you are carrying and He cares.

Maybe someone other than me needed that reminder tonight. Maybe someone else needed a word of encouragement.

Your wounds are not invisible. Jesus sees them. Jesus cares about them. You. Are. LOVED.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Confessions From a Coke Addict

I have a list a mile long of things I want- thinner thighs, pearly white (healthy) teeth, a new wardrobe, money in the bank, a deeper relationship with God, a better relationship with my step-daughter, my bachelor's degree, to write a book, etc... I WANT a lot of things. But what do I do about it?

I have this very bad habit of eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Coke while I thumb through exercise programs and diet plans on Pinterest. The things I WANT are not evident by my actions. If I REALLY WANT thinner thighs and healthy, pearly white teeth, I should stop drinking the Coke. That would also add more money to the bank, too! There are many things in my life that I WANT but not at the expense of the things that I WANT MORE. It seems logical to give up Coke and Cheeseburgers for thinner thighs and a nicer smile. But the truth is, I love my Coke, and at this point in my life I haven't been willing to give it up... yet. Not for good, anyway.

I know you health-nuts are screaming at me to just put down the Coke but there's an even bigger lesson here. What are we putting before God?

The very first Commandment is to have no other gods before the One True God. That means NOTHING and nobody comes before Him. As Christians, we like to think we have this Commandment down... but do we? No, we don't worship Buddha and we don't have any little chubby idols in our houses... but are we putting other things before God?

I mentioned earlier that I want a better relationship with God. Well, what am I doing about it? I want more quiet time with Him... but do I want it more than I want that extra hour of sleep in the morning? I want to read His Word more... but do I want it more than I want to watch TV at night? Am I putting things before God?

I think if we're honest with ourselves, we ALL put things before God once in a while - probably without even thinking about it. I want to challenge you today to take a good look at your WANT list and your WANT MORE list. Which side of your list is God on?? If you're like me, you might need to re-evaluate some things in your life and make sure your actions are reflecting your desires and that your desires are in keeping God first.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Let Them Be Little

This week I had the privilege of taking each of my three daughters out on separate mommy/daughter lunch dates. The older two I took shopping. The youngest enjoyed a day in the sprinkler with me. Today I took my oldest, my 13 year old, out for lunch, shopping, and then ice cream. As we sat at the Olive Garden enjoying our salads and toasted ravioli together, we both fell in love with two sweet little toddlers at a table near ours. The dad looked tired. The mom looked frazzled. The little ones looked happy and oblivious. I commented to my daughter that I don't miss those days at all, as I watched the mom scramble under the table in search of a missing crayon...again. But as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I knew they weren't true. And so did my daughter. She immediately called me on it and asked me if I didn't miss the days of being able to hold her and rock her and snuggle in bed with her. Of course I do. I miss those days terribly. I miss her chubby cheeks and the sweet smell of a baby after a bath. I miss the softness of her skin and the tenderness of her coo. I miss always knowing where she is and having the ability to make every decision that concerns her. I miss her being all mine.

As the little boy across from us started stretching fried mozzarella from his mouth to his plate and his little sister began making music with her fork, their frazzled mother turned to face us as she heard our escaped giggles. "Please tell me it gets easier," she said to me with a look of fatigue on her face that every mother knows. "It does," I assured her. "And it goes by fast, so try to enjoy it."

After our lunch, Miracle and I enjoyed some shopping with a gift card her grandma sent her and then she suggested we hit up our favorite soft custard stand. I posted a picture of us on facebook and captioned it with "These special days out with my daughters are making me broke and fat - but they're worth it." And that is the truth. They are worth it. I know my girls won't be babies forever. They won't be five year olds forever. They won't be teenagers forever. God only gives us a short season to be able to have our children under our wings. I want to be intentional in cherishing every moment of it.

If you're a sleepless mom of a newborn, a frazzled mom of a toddler, a busy mom of a young child, a puzzled mom of a tween, or a worried mom of a teenager, HOLD ON. God will give you the grace that you need to get through each day...and precious memories to last a life time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hats off to our Heroes!

We always talk about how, as wives and mothers, we wear so many hats. We are chefs and referees, accountants and taxi drivers, doctors and fort builders. But have you thought about the many hats your husband wears? And have you thanked him for his willingness and ability to wear them?

A few nights ago I woke up very startled at what sounded to me like something tapping on our front door. I won't lie- it SCARED me. I don't know if my husband heard the sound himself or if he just heard me begging him to check it out, but he jumped out of bed and ran straight to the front door. That's what our men do. Our men are warriors. They run straight to the danger. I thanked him for saving me from the alarming noise which turned out to be an overturned trashcan that the raccoons were playing with. But last night I thought about it again and I took a moment to thank him for being our protector and shared with him how much it means to me to be married to someone who always puts our safety above his own.

What hats does your husband wear? Some common hats are that of provider, protector, chauffer, coach, teacher, counselor, friend, lover, accountant, mechanic, grounds keeper, fitness instructor, etc.. Have you thanked him for being any of these things lately? Maybe your husband plays a unique role in your family. Is your husband the chef or the primary child care provider? Thank him! What special abilities and talents has God given him that he uses for the good of your family? As I type this I'm reminded that my husband is my public defender- when I'm on the phone with some company's representative that starts to try and bully me, my husband is right there to remind them who they are speaking with and how he expects them to speak to me. I need to thank him for that!

I challenge you today to think of the hats your husband wears today and thank God for giving him those talents and abilities. Then go thank your husband for his willingness to do those things for your family. Get creative in how you thank him! A little love and encouragement goes a long way!