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.

When God Knits Hearts Together

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It’s hard to believe that one week ago today I was on a plane, returning home from a most spiritually uplifting time of sweet refreshing. God had to take me clear across the country…literally from one coast to the other…to remind me that sometimes we have to leave the comfort of what is familiar to experience the glorious.

And I have never been so glad to flee my comfort zone in my entire life.

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My heart is completely, utterly, and unquestionably knit together forever with some beautiful women out in California. I’ve been reflecting all week on this glorious love of God that transcends highways and byways, bridges rivers and canyons, and connects hearts and souls.

And I am awed. Amazed. Humbled.

I don’t know why. God never quits being awesome. He never ceases to be amazing. He never stops humbling. Sometimes, though, in the comfort of my everyday life I forget that God longs to WOW-me. So He makes me uncomfortable. It’s in this discomfort that I discover how comfortable I can be when I let Him take me into the unknown and love on me real good every step of the way.

God has this funny way of bringing us to the end of ourselves in the unfamiliar. It’s here that we experience glorious things of our God who brings glory to Himself through surrendered hearts and willing vessels. Things we’ve forgotten. Or forfeited. There’s just something so holy about being brought low. Something so humbling when I pour out and God pours in. It’s in this place we’re overwhelmed by Love.

And the ladies of Glendora loved all over me with the love of Christ. From the moment Cathy began communicating with me through email to the moment Cheryl picked me up at the airport to the moment Joann and her husband received me into their home to the moment I met Felice for the first time to the moment I entered the retreat center and was introduced to 50-plus amazing women who came with the anticipation of meeting with our Jesus, I felt as if I’d known them forever, our hearts entwined, knitted together like a beautifully stitched afghan warming my body and comforting my soul.

I will never forget them.

As I was reflecting on this I remembered that Scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 18:1, 3 & 4, “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself…then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.” 

This encounter between David and the son of king Saul follows David’s triumph over the Philistine giant, Goliath. Jonathan had not only seen David’s courage and witnessed his victory, but he had heard David speak boldly in defense of the one true God, the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

Jonathan felt a kinship with David because they were like-minded. To knit means to tie, physically, to gird; to bind together, league together. I guess you could say they were in “a league all their own.”  They shared a bond and that bond was rooted in their love for the Lord God. I’m sure Jonathan admired David’s courage and respected his bold attack against the enemy, but there’s just something about someone who shares your love for the Lord.

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Believers that come together in oneness of heart and soul, in the glorious love of Christ Jesus, are true kindred spirits. They’re not strangers. There’s no discomfort. Nothing unfamiliar about that. I may have flown to California thinking I was going to bless those women with encouragement in the Word of God, but God threw me a curve ball. They will never know how God used them to bless me good.

When it was time for me to leave I cried. As much as I missed my husband, my family, and my friends back home, I still felt a sadness in my heart because these precious women would be so far away.

2,554.6 miles to be exact.

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How can you explain this kind of feeling except for the love of God? I thought of Paul’s tearful good-bye with his Ephesian brothers and sisters in Christ, how they knelt in the sand before he boarded the ship, weeping and praying at the thought of never seeing him again.

I thought of the words he wrote to the Romans in 1:11, “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” 

And the words he wrote to the church in Corinth, recorded in 2 Corinthians 3: 2 & 3, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 

And his words in Philippians 1: 3-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. In view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.” 

I think Paul knew what it meant to have his heart bound and knitted together with those he came to love through his ministry. That love transcended highways and byways, bridged rivers and canyons, and connected hearts and souls. Love is sometimes puzzling, baffling, and perplexing, but the pure love of Christ will always be a glorious thing.

I pray that I’ll be reunited again this side of heaven with my California friends because they left an imprint on my heart that will never wash away. Thank goodness for Facebook and Instagram. If Jesus returns before an earthly reunion, I can’t think of anything more glorious than celebrating together on streets of gold.

So, to my dear friends who live on the opposite side of the country, “Thank you for inviting me to flee my comfort zone. Thank you for embracing me. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. I am forever grateful.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I use to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy M. Montgomery

*Top photo taken by Felice

The Thing God Did For Love

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Probably the most recognizable and most quoted Scripture in all of the Bible is John 3:16,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Gosh, I hate to say it, but I’ve been fighting for joy this Christmas season. The weather’s not helping. The clouds have been relentless, the rain horrendous. Yesterday it rained so hard and so much the streets flooded. And there I was in the middle of it.

Years ago I made a selfish rule: Don’t go anywhere on Christmas Eve (except to the Christmas Eve service at church).

For the first time in a long, long time I broke that rule. My Jazzy was sick. Very sick. So sick she could barely stand up. She could hardly walk. She quit eating. She quit drinking. She trembled. I had to carry her up and down the porch steps to go to the bathroom. I thought my dog was dying. When I called her veterinarian on Tuesday afternoon the only appointment he had was Christmas Eve. What else could I do?

So yesterday morning at 8:30, I picked Jazzy up and carried her to the car in the pouring down rain. As I was driving the 18 or so miles to the vet’s office I crept along the highway with a few other half-crazy drivers strong enough to brave the torrent, traveling along at 45 miles per hour because visibility was so poor, you wouldn’t believe how God spoke to me.

I was frustrated and because I believe in being honest with God about what I’m feeling in my heart I told Him so. I was sick of rain. I was sick of dark skies. I was sick about some things that hadn’t been going my way lately. Sick of battling fear and anxiety. Sick of worrying about my dog, for Pete’s sake. Oh, I admit, some of my rant was ridiculously petty and small in the grand scheme of things, but some of it was big. At least to me. And then….out of nowhere….I heard the melody and words from this really secular, completely UN-spiritual song,

The things we do for love….

Like walking in the rain and the snow

When there’s nowhere to go

And you’re feeling like a part of you is dying

And you’re looking for the answer in her eyes (The Things We Do For Love, Hit song by the British Band, 10cc, in 1976)

I was a teenager back in the 1970’s. I graduated in 1976, the year this song was a hit. Since I don’t hear well, I never knew all the words to this song. I didn’t listen to the radio or buy a lot of records. Most of the time I just learned words to songs as I heard my friends sing them. I longed to be able to join in with them, but to tell you the truth it’s probably better that I didn’t. Hearing impaired people don’t always sing on key. At least I don’t. I may think I do. My family has made it very clear that I don’t, but I think hearing impaired people are blessed in a special way. They often learn to be content with silence. Maybe that’s why God speaks to me in such unconventional ways. When the words to this song began to play in my mind, God shut my mouth and ended my rant.

The thing I did for love…

Like walking in the rain and the snow

When there’s nowhere to go

And you’re feeling like a part of you is dying

And you’re looking for the answer in My eyes. (God, 2014)

As the rain beat down on my car like a jackhammer and my windshield wipers swished back and forth in double-time, Jazzy kept her eyes on me, shaking and shivering, her eyes pleading with me to fix her, to make it better. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t tell me what was wrong, but she trusted me. I remember thinking I might let her down. I remember thinking she might not go back home. I remember thinking there’s only so much a vet can do for a dog or other beloved pet that’s reached the end of its days. And I started to cry.

There in the midst of my tears, in the middle of a downpour on Christmas Eve, God reminded me that when the rain is a torrent and roads are flooded and people I love are hurting He loves in a way that I can’t. He can go where I can’t. He can reach people I can’t. He can heal hurts I can’t. All because He loves. Not just a little. But a lot. Enough to fill a river.

I looked up the words to this song online and thought how appropriate…

Too  many broken hearts have fallen in the river

Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea

You lay your bets and then you pay the price

The things we do for love, The things we do for love. (10cc, 1976)

God sent His Son. His name is Jesus and everything about Him is love. His love pulls broken hearts out of rivers and lonely souls out of seas. I can’t take love out of Him. I can think He doesn’t love, if I want to. I can say He doesn’t love, I can even believe in my heart that He doesn’t, but why would I? I know it wouldn’t be true. Not to me. There are just some things no one can take away from me. I can’t separate God’s love from Him and I can’t separate the Father from His Son. They are One.

“This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I can never, ever be separated from the love of God that I have in Christ Jesus. I can try, but I’d waste a lot of energy. I can try running like Jonah or hiding like Adam and Eve, but I’d waste a lot of time. I’d rather live in this love than live apart from it because I’ve found that the love of Jesus is an amazing thing. He was born to be the greatest gift I’ve ever known. He gave me His life. This love is a powerful thing…

For God so loved the world…For God loved to such a great extent….For God loved extremely…Like a downpour…Like a flood…that He sent His only Son. 

This is the thing God did for love.

So Jazzy stayed with the vet yesterday. He took some x-rays, gave her fluids through an IV, started her on some pain and anti-inflammatory medications and I’m happy to say she came back home. We’ll be monitoring her arthritis and learning to manage it over the next few years, I guess. She slept well and this morning she seems her usual, energetic self. She keeps coming to me, laying her head on my leg, nudging me for a hug and attention. She needs reassurance because the clouds are still looming outside and we’ll most likely see some more rain, but love is in the air.

And today is Christmas. The day God gave the world the greatest gift ever and Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving…and giving…and giving…and the greatest gift I can give to others is this love.