I Don’t Want To Adult Today

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I don’t want to adult today. I’m writing this blog post at 4 a.m., but I’ve been up since 2. I don’t feel well.

And I just don’t want to adult today.

Right before Christmas last year I had a health scare. Hemoptysis. (Coughing up blood.) Believe me when I say, It was kinda scary. It wasn’t a little bit of blood coming up with a little bit of something else. It was pure, red, and a lot of it. After 4 episodes, it stopped.

Under the care of my family physician, whom I trust completely and absolutely, I’ve seen an ear-nose-throat doctor for a laryngoscopy; an internist for an endoscopy; a pulmonary doctor who ‘threatened’ a bronchoscopy; and finally an endocrinologist who ordered an ultrasound of my thyroid. So thankful there was no ‘scope’ for that. I’m kinda tired of people sticking cameras down my inner parts.

Until the endocrinologist I was beginning to believe all my issues were in my head because pinpointing the reasons why I feel so bad seemed to be elusive. I can’t even tell you the relief I felt to discover I have a tumor on my thyroid.

Yes, relieved. I am not crazy. This tumor is big enough to biopsy.

I’ve had many days since Christmas when I don’t want to adult.

I am tired. Sometimes extremely fatigued.

I have  brain fog. Sometimes all. day. long.

I have a scratchy throat. Sometimes I could swear it’s on fire.

I have air hunger. Sometimes I just can’t seem to breathe enough of it in.

I have trouble swallowing. Sometimes I choke on my own saliva. This cannot be normal.

I have hoarseness in my voice. Sometimes I can barely talk. It hurts. This makes me sad because I love to talk. The sound of my voice has changed. I don’t sound like me. (Insert tears.)

My mouth is dry. It feels funny. Like chalk. My taste buds have changed. (Insert more tears.) Some foods leave an awful, bitter taste in my mouth. This disturbs me greatly because there are some foods out there that are very dear to my heart. Like pizza. I can’t eat pizza anymore. I think I’m dying.

My lips are dry. If I don’t keep them moisturized all the time, the corners crack and bleed. They burn. Especially after I eat foods that have too much spice or salt. I keep at least 6 lip balms in my purse at all times. Some are more soothing than others. It took me months to find one I really love, but I’ve only been able to find it in one store. I need to buy stock in this product. Maybe they’ll give me a discount.

And the weirdest issue of all…I cannot maintain a normal body temperature. I feel like I have a fever, but I don’t. The truth is, I don’t have enough of a temperature. It’s gone as low as 94.8. Right now it’s 95.7. Add the scratchy throat and the hoarse voice and the fatigue and I feel pretty much like I’ve got the flu.

No, I don’t want to adult today.

I’ll be the first to tell you, I don’t think all these symptoms are just because I have a tumor on my thyroid. I’ve been through this before. When I was 19 I had half my thyroid removed because of a tumor. Pre-Cancer. In the beginning doctors said it was cancer, but after it was taken out and biopsied I was pleasantly blessed.

I’ve always been hyperthyroid. I think the pendulum has swung the other way in the second of half of my life. I am now hypo. The low body temps are a pretty good indicator.

I know the importance of the thyroid gland to the over-all, well-being of my body. When I was 19 I didn’t have a computer and a world of knowledge at my fingertips. My family pretty much depended upon the doctors to educate us, but the past several months I’ve done so much reading and researching online I could literally scare myself silly.

I’ve decided to lay off the research. I know enough to know that a sick thyroid can make me sick and that’s that. I felt pretty lousy when I was 19, too.

Next week I see a specialist in Raleigh. I know we’ll get to the bottom of this. I’ll have a biopsy done and we’ll go from there. Until then, I’ll have to adult even when I don’t want to.

When my body screams, I can’t get up, my legs are like lead, I will move my feet.

When my brain screams, I can’t concentrate, my brain is fried, I will push through the fog.

When my voice screams, I can’t talk, my throat hurtsI will open my mouth.

When my lungs scream, I can’t breathe, my throat is closing in, will relax and take a deep breath.

When my temperature decelerates and my lips burn and my mouth rebels, I will adult.

I may not like it, but I will.

And I will trust in the love of God to give me strength when days are long and hard, when I am weary and uncertain. Because if nothing else seems for sure, the love of God always is. It’s steadfast, perfect and a truly wonderful thing.

God loves me. It’s true. And this is a truth to which I cling.

Because if I believe that God loves me then I can believe His love is enough to carry me through the storms of life. His arms hold me tight. His hands never lose their grip and it’s in this place of certainty that I rest. Even as I keep moving forward, keep pushing through, keep taking deep breaths.

And it’s in this place of trust that I will adult today.

 

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31

When Second Chances Are The Best Thing That Ever Happens To You

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Friday I celebrated my thirty-seventh wedding anniversary.

37 years. Lord, have mercy. (I say this with great joy!)

I told my Facebook friends on Friday when I posted this milestone that I was going to regale them with a story. How I married the man of my dreams even though we had a ‘not-so-good’ first date. A blind date, no less.

And, listen…I’ve heard my sweet husband tell this story many times over the years so I’m not telling you anything we haven’t agreed on.

We just really did NOT…and I mean, did NOT…enjoy one another’s company on our first date. Blind dates can be so…blind. You have no idea what to expect. You only know what the person who set the date up has told you. This ‘said-person’ was my sister. I mean, if you can’t trust your sister who can you trust?!?

I ask you…

Anyways, I was 20 years old. And floundering. I had spent all my life living in one little community. I grew up with the same kids, attended the same church, even lived in the same house all those years. I was pretty sheltered. I didn’t realize until I went off to college–an all-girls’ college, I might add–just how sheltered I had been. Not to mention, just how insecure I was.

My freshman year of college was miserable. I was so unhappy. Cried a lot. Couldn’t eat. Lost weight. Depressed. When I went home on my spring break my father took me to a doctor and basically said, Please find something wrong with her.

I guess Dad was hoping and praying that all the changes in my behavior wasn’t just in my head.

It wasn’t. But, it wasn’t what my Dad expected, either. As if being born with hearing loss and losing an eye as a child and growing up an asthmatic wasn’t enough, the diagnosis was…Thyroid cancer. But, don’t worry, we’ve never lost anyone to thyroid cancer. 

I finished out my freshman year of college and told my parents, I was NOT going back to that school. I had half my thyroid removed and enrolled in the nearest community college. Moved into an apartment with some girlfriends, dated some guys, had some fun, acted stupid, did things I’m not proud of, and lost all interest in just about everything. So I dropped out of school.

In all honesty, I really didn’t like myself very much. I became more and more introverted. I  had the hardest time meeting new people. I developed an inner fear that I would never be loved by any man because I just wasn’t pretty enough. I had such low self-esteem.

Growing up, I never had to talk about my hearing issues or the fact that I wore a prosthetic eye. It was a small community. Everybody knew everybody else’s business so there really wasn’t a need to talk about it, I guess, but I honestly don’t think I could have, anyway.

I had too many memories rolling around in my brain about my eye accident that I didn’t know what to do with. Memories of hospitals, doctors, bandages, eye patches, loneliness. To sum it up in one word, painful.

I just didn’t want to talk about it all. Meeting new people might mean I’d have to talk about it. So, I introverted myself instead.

Meeting guys and getting to know them was one of the hardest things I had to do at the age of 20. Sometimes I backed off after a few dates. Sometimes I ran like a scared rabbit. A few times I got too attached too soon and ended up dumped.

Without realizing it, I piled on insecurities in one giant heap.

After 5 months of living on my own–and not liking myself very much–I went back home. Back to where I felt safe. Back to where I felt loved. Back to where I could figure some things out.

And this is where the real story begins. The story that began with a blind date.

A blind date means you start fresh with someone who knows very little about you. Nothing of significance. Nothing of importance. No history. No past. What did I have to lose? I’d already lost my self-respect. Let’s face it, when you reach rock-bottom there’s really no where else to go but up.

A blind date actually stirred up something in my heart. Like, a flicker of hope. Because maybe, just maybe, my date would see something inside of me worth liking. Something besides the hearing loss and the fake eye and all my insecurities. I wanted a man who would look at my heart with a heart of his own.

But that first date…how can you really get to know someone in a bar?

Yes, that’s where Wayne took me. To a bar. A loud, noisy bar. A bar where he ordered me a few beers that I didn’t drink so he drank them for me. A bar where the lights were so low I couldn’t really read his lips very well. A bar where the music was so loud I could hardly understand a word he was saying. A bar where there was dancing but I was so uncomfortable I didn’t get out of my seat one single time.

We just sat there. And sat. And sat. And sat.

It was an early night for us that night. Wayne took me home and I really don’t think he got a goodnight kiss. I didn’t think we would ever see one another again.

But even though I was still in my rebel season, still trying to figure things out, still far from God, still not walking in a right relationship with Him, even though…even though…even though…God was still at work in my life.

The restlessness, the emptiness, the miserableness all spoke to the spiritual deficit in my heart. There was a yearning for a life with meaning. I knew God to be The God-of-Second-Chances. The God who never gives up on me. The God who never abandons me. The God who woos and pursues and continues to love all over me when I don’t feel very pretty, when I don’t act very pretty.

God loved me when I was dirty. His love isn’t based on first impressions of us, when we first come to Him, when we first give Him our whole hearts, before we clean ourselves up. His love is unconditional. So often, first impressions can be misleading. No doubt they can be very important, but what if God loved us based on first impressions? How could any of us ever hope to find favor with Him?

I guess some would argue that there are no first impressions with God. After all, He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He knows us each more individually, personally, and intimately than any one else ever could. His first impression of us is so pure and right and holy.

And ours are not. It’s so sad that we fall so short in our ability to move past bad first impressions. They keep us from seeing others with the heart of God.

Oh, Sweet Jesus…how glad, how thankful, how absolutely grateful I am that You are a Second-Chance-God. How glad I am that I gave my husband a second-chance. How thankful I am that You allowed me to look deeper into his heart and see him for the man he truly is. How absolutely grateful I am that You stirred my heart to move past my first impression.

I don’t know why-other than the grace of God that washed over me-but I wanted to give Wayne another chance. I wanted to see him again because I believed there was more to him than a bar and loud music.

I bought him a plant. I wrote him a note with the words, “Please don’t let it die,” and I delivered it to his apartment. He wasn’t home so I left it on his doorstep.

And the rest is history. Our love story is still being written, but I can tell you this…God gave me just what I wanted. No, He gave me just what I needed. Wayne has always seen beyond my hearing loss and my fake eye. Wayne has a second-chance heart because he gave me a second-chance, too.

I love that my husband sees my heart with his own heart of gold, a heart that is pure and right and holy, kind and good and gentle. A heart that truly loves me the way Christ loves the Church, full of love and devotion, sacrifice and service.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Wayne would lay down his life for me. And if I don’t stop, I’m gonna start bawling like a baby, but can I just say? I love this man. With my whole heart. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him.

Wayne and I have lots of tales to tell. Our marriage has been full of ups and downs, messiness and craziness, tears and laughter. We’ve raised 2 sons together and our family is growing. We now have 2 precious daughters-in-law. One day we hope for grandchildren.

We are blessed beyond measure. We are graced beyond infinity.

And we will be loved into eternity. Because sometimes love…like the love of God…never dies. It lasts forever.

Because God is a Second-Chance-God.

And second chances are sometimes the best thing that ever happens to you.

And to prove it, Wayne and I were married on the one-year anniversary of our ‘not-so-good’ first date on June 3, 1979.

Reflections On Psalm 8

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So…I was wondering…do you have a problem sometimes remembering that you are not God?

Can I just say, sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Cause if I’m going to be honest here, I certainly know I’m not God, but there are times when I sure try to play God. Like I gotta fix what I can’t fix and change what I can’t change or like I gotta get in people’s business and get in people’s heads.

It takes a lot of prayer to refrain from “sharing my wisdom” with my completely clever sons and “giving my advice” to my perfectly adept husband or “teaching my knowledge” to my totally savvy friends. (When they don’t ask, of course. If they ask, hey, that’s different.)

Most of the time, I have to remind myself that “listening” is better than “talking.” I tend to talk too much. (I gotta lot to say!!! Doesn’t everybody?!?)

Sometimes, I think God just shakes His head at me and says, “HellooOoo…remember Me?”

It never hurts to remind myself of the character of God.

It never hurts to remind myself I’m a little lower than God…

I’m down here. He’s up there.

Higher. Loftier. Above all things. Over all things. Wiser. Smarter. Excellent.

David reminds us twice in Psalm 8,

“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

How powerful. How great. How glorious. How mighty. How noble. How worthy.

How magnificent!!

I’m getting all excited just typing out those synonyms. Who doesn’t gain a proper perspective when considering the majesty of God? Who? I ask you.

David…somehow…always managed to bring himself out of a slump, out of depression, out of despair by focusing on God’s character. By giving God the praise that is due His great name.

Circumstances may change, but God never does. He can’t change. He’s incapable of changing.

He will always be great. Always be glorious. Always be mighty. Always be noble.

Always magnificent!

I think of David’s humble beginnings. The youngest son of Jesse. A shepherd. The lowliest of occupations. Yet, David rose to such prominence. He brought worship back to the hearts of God’s people.

Worship: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. Another way of saying, “giving someone his/her worth”.

For me, for those who love the Lord-the one true God, it’s giving Him praise and honor and glory. It’s adoration, exaltation, devotion. It’s to cherish Him, treasure Him, esteem Him. (And if I don’t stop, I’m gonna start bawling like a baby ’cause there’s just something about all this that stirs my soul.)

David, God bless him, just had a heart of worship, for worship. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if spending  so many nights under the starry sky, while he kept watch over his flock by night, developed an understanding and a knowledge about the greatness of God that few of us will ever truly grasp.

I know how I felt one morning several years ago at the beach. I woke up way too early for the sunrise. It was cold, but I decided to pass the time by lying on my back atop a grassy dune. I stared up into the heavens. The sky still so dark, but the stars still so bright. I stretched my arms out, palms up and I sang. Before I knew it, the stars began to rain down. One shooting star after another.

And the heavens declared the glory of God.

I’ll never forget it. I remind myself of it often.

How big God is. How small I am.

I imagine it’s how David felt, too. Night after night. Gazing into the heavens. He got a taste of God’s majesty.

And he was forever changed. His heart would never be the same. His heart would always want to be near the heart of God. His heart would always want to remember the worth of God. His heart just would not be satisfied if it did not worship.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is  man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” verses 4- 5

Alone with God, in the quiet and stillness of the night, David truly saw God. He considered, reflected, pondered, inspected, and He believed. He believed that God was real because He experienced God’s presence for himself.

Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world His (God’s) invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, that they (men) are without excuse.”

Yes. There’s enough evidence in all of Creation to stir our hearts toward God. There is enough proof for us to see. To know. To perceive. To consider.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that although God has given me much and created me to bring Him glory, I am still very small when compared with all of His vastness, His wideness, His deepness. I am still very weak when compared with all of His power, His might, His strength.

Without Him, I am nothing. I can do nothing. But with Him I can do much, according to His work within me. According to how much I give Him control.

And to think…He crowns me with glory and majesty! verse 5

Who am I, O God? Who am I?

Yes, I need Him very, very badly. And, yes, I tell Him so. All the time.

One of the hardest things, sometimes, is to worship God when I don’t feel like it. When I’m in a slump. When I’m feeling depressed. But, honestly, those are the times when I need to consider the character of God the most.

Because His wisdom, His knowledge, His advice is greater. Higher. Loftier. Above all things. Over all things. It never hurts to remind myself of His attributes. His eternal power. His divine nature.

It never hurts to remember the stars raining down on me.

Because in those precious moments with my God, I was so awed I was completely silent. Speechless. I had no words.

Listening was so much better than talking.

Because the heavens were saying it all, HellooOoo….remember Me?

Yep. It never hurts to remind myself…

Reflections On Psalm 7

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A few Saturdays ago I spoke at a church in my hometown back in Virginia, a church in the county where I grew up. It was like a happy family reunion. Friends of all ages were there, but these weren’t just ordinary friends.

These were the friends I played with as a child and the older friends who kept a close eye on me while I played with their children. These friends I huddled with in school hallways or assembled with in church pews. These friends laughed with me and cried with me, instructed me and admonished me, encouraged me and consoled me, but above all, they loved me. Real good.

I’m pretty sure they still do.

These are the kind of friends I’ll keep in my heart ’til the day I die.

Where in the world would I be without friends?!? How in the world could I have gotten through some of the toughest times in my life without my friends?!? I ask you.

How could any of us?

And yet, as many true and loyal friends I’ve been blessed to have in my life and as much as I would love to be loved by everyone, I know I’m not. I know there are people out there who just don’t like me. Maybe they haven’t told me to my face. Maybe they haven’t openly confessed it. Maybe they haven’t shown it in any way, shape or form. But, I’m pretty sure they’re there.

Sigh.

Tucked away in a safety deposit box of my memory bank is a time I was the victim of bullying. I’ve tucked it away as a reminder that not everyone in this world has a heart of sensitivity and compassion.

I can understand what it’s like to be “hated.”

I was in the seventh grade. I really don’t know why ‘this girl’ hated me. I don’t know why she just up one day and began following me around the halls, taunting me, calling me names, laughing in the face of her own hostility. I ignored and ignored and ignored her until one day I snapped. I twirled around and told her to STOP!!  But she only laughed some more.

I suspect my retaliation was exactly the response ‘this girl’ was looking for. Because the next day, as she followed behind me in the halls, laughing her wicked laugh, her intense dislike for me grew to physical aggression and she pushed me.

I remember my heart racing with fear, but still…I held my head high and I walked on.

One day my antagonizer took her aggression to the next level and physically kicked me. I’m thinking she was hoping for a fight in which she would prove her dominance.

What she failed to realize is that she kicked me right smack in front of the school office. It happened before the first bell rang, early in the morning, and the office was teaming with teachers, children, parents.

I don’t know what came over me, I can only hope it was righteous indignation, but I burst into that busy office and demanded to speak to the principal. The school receptionist, who was a member of my church, stopped what she was doing…as did everyone else…and asked, “Nina, What’s wrong?!”

I pointed to ‘this girl’ whose face registered shock that I had finally found my courage and said, “She kicked me! For no reason!!!” And with that, I burst into tears.

Although my aggressor never bothered me again after that, I still always wondered, “What did I ever do to make her hate me so?”

I honestly couldn’t come up with a reason. Although we grew up living in the same county and attending the same schools, we never spoke again. Ever.

But, I can still see her face.

David had a lot of enemies. Sometimes I’m sure he wondered, too. Wondered what he’d done to make some people hate him. I imagine those in high places have a lot of enemies, but I like to think that David did the best he could to be fair. To be honest. To be kind.

No, David wasn’t perfect. Far from it. But, he was a God-seeker and he strived to keep short accounts with God.

When his enemies came against him, I’d like to think he, too, asked the question, “What did I ever do to make them hate me so?”

Because David wanted to have a heart that was pure before God. If he had wronged someone, he wanted to make it right. If he had hurt someone, he wanted to know and he was willing to accept the consequences.

In Psalm 7, he tells God, “O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it: And let him trample my life down to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.” 

All through the psalms we see prayers lifted up to God for deliverance from the enemy. Deliverance from those who hate. Those who trample all over the lives of the innocent. Those who give no thought to the sanctity of the human heart.

When I wonder, “Why, Lord? Why are people so cruel?” I may not get an answer, but I get a prayer…

“O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, Or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver…Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.” Verses 1-2 & 6

…because God is on my side. When I am innocent of wrongdoing and I don’t deserve someone’s hatred and wrath and rage, God is my Vindicator. My Judge. My Deliverer.

It’s a sin-sick world and many don’t know the love of my Jesus. All they know is hatred and rage. And who knows all the reasons why they hate? I could name a million of them, but I don’t have the time or the space.

All I know is…Jesus said in John 15: 18 & 19, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

With that, I will close. Because I really don’t know what else to say except maybe this…

I wonder, “Is ‘that girl’ I once considered an enemy still filled with hatred?” Maybe not for me, but for someone else.

Because I can still see her face and I pray she’s found the love of Jesus instead.

I’d like to think that if I knew her now, she wouldn’t be my enemy.

She’d be my friend.

 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Courage When You Need It

This morning I posted a devotional on my Facebook Page, Reflection On The Word, and it dawned on me…why don’t I share those devotionals here on my blog, too?

So, if you’re interested, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/reflectionontheword

Thanks for reading!
Grace,

Nina