Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Look Back in History!

Well, you are getting this post from a cabin tucked away in the Arkansas' forest! I am surrounded by wildflowers, cicadas (which make a ridiculous amount of noise!), deer, butterflies, ticks (which I woke up yesterday morning to one using me as an all-you-can-eat buffet... GROSS!), and the beautiful lake!  Definitely a little slice of God's heaven!!

Yesterday, Mom and I went on lots of walks and drives down the roads that surround us and I got to delight myself in taking picture after picture of wildlife, flowers, insects, and unique shots of nature!! Can anyone say an absolute BLAST!?!?!?!?!  Today we will probably be heading out on the lake to watch my brothers (Alex was able to get off from him camp counselor gig this weekend and is coming over for the day!!) waterski and then later mom and I might go into Eureka Springs to be the quintessential tourists and also shoot a few more interesting photos! =D I'm hoping that when I get home I can start scrapbooking again and organize my pictures! I had such fun with that years ago and I think it would be a perfect hobby to take up with my photography!! Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to start selling some of my prints on a small scale?!  It's all in God's hands!!

Pain-wise I have been miserable and it has permeated everything we have done.  I have tried my best to rely on Christ's strength to get through and have really focused on keeping a positive perspective on everything.  Last night I woke up at 3:30 in a ton of pain and, thankfully, was able to catch a few more hours of sleep from 6-8:30 but it still qualified as a rough night.  I'm thinking I probably overdid it yesterday, but honestly it was worth it!!  Mom and I definitely needed some fun, one-on-one time that didn't revolve around doctors, or therapists, or anything to do with RSD!  We were able to be completely spontaneous and have a blast stopping whenever and for whatever caught our fancy!  (Hopefully, when I get back to Flo-Mo I'll be able to figure out how to post some of the pictures that I was able to capture! =))

Probably one of my favorite shots happened when Mom and I were driving around exploring and we came across the neatest house (or what was left of it) that sat in the middle of a field off of the road!  You could almost look back through the pages of history and see the day that the wife saw her husband's hard work, and her joy at seeing the two-story house where they would live was almost tangible, even 100s of years later!  When looking at dilapidated old buildings, barns, and homes I realized that I was faced with two options.  I could either look at it for what it is now... a bunch of rotten boards, broken windows, and tattered window covers; or, I could see it through different eyes and appreciate it for the beauty and joy it brought to it's first owners and how much they treasured it.  I love trying to picture the life that was lived within those walls and to see the good instead of the bad that is painfully evident at this day-and-age!

I think Christ really used that as a life-lesson for me.  In life it is so easy to see the gaping holes in the roof, the disintegrating floors that were once hand-laid with love, and the wooden window panes that are hanging askew instead of choosing to view the scene through Christ's eyes.  To see it as what it was in it's prime and also what it could be in the future!  Who knows what new and beautiful things could be created from the wood that has weathered centuries of rain, snow, and sunshine?  It really convicted me of my life and how if I were to step back and look at it now, I would see flames of pain, broken dreams, and crushed spirits.  But I have the choice to see the beauty of what my life used to be and then look on with anticipation to what God is going to do with what remains of that previous life.  Just because things didn't go on the "Chelsea's Life Plan" track doesn't mean that God isn't going to be able to take the remains and transform them into something utterly breathtaking and spectacular!! I think I'm gonna chose to look through those eyes instead of the ones who only focus on the problems. =-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exhausted but Still Have a Way to Go

Have you ever had a time when you were bone tired?  I mean the kind of exhausted that sleep alone won't help.  It's more of a physical, mental, emotional exhaustion.  Like you need to completely switch off your brain for a good 72 hours to begin to feel energized again? The kind of exhausted that causes every step you take and every breath you make to be an experience of suffering.  Your theoretical gas tank is empty.  Your reserve tank is dry.  And that water bottle you filled up on a whim last year doesn't have a single drop of energy left.  You feel like you're coming to the close of a 1,000 mile marathon but turn around only to realize that the you've only past mile marker number 2.  How can you possible go on? There's no way you can make it!  You're body is useless and your ability to put one foot in front of the other is only a distant memory...

In the Bible there are SO many instances of people and situations that seem beyond bleak when all of a sudden, these two little words show up in the text and everything changes!  Here are just a few examples:

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, … to save much people alive (Genesis 50:20).

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand (1 Samuel 23:14).

When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:25,26).

They took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:29,30)

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7,8)

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

For indeed [Epaphroditus] was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also (Philippians 2:27).

How just like God is it to let us get to the end of ourselves before He comes in and "saves the day!"  He loves us enough to let us learn the hard way that it is impossible for us to do it from our own strength.  We MUST rely on him for our strength and endurance if we ever hope to navigate this temporary home.

I have had to remind myself of this truth regularly these past couple weeks.  My pain has been debilitating.  With the weather fronts, storms, and humidity we have experienced here lately, I have experienced new depths of horrific pain as well as deep despair that relief will ever come.  I get to that point where the pain threatens to swallow me whole and then God sweeps in with a "but God" and changes the whole situation around.  Now don't get me wrong.  It's not like God is an ornery school boy who delights in sizzling ants with a magnifying glass and only relents at the last minute.  Quite the opposite.  God desires to carry me through these excruciating times of life, but often, until I ask Him, He patiently waits for me to turn to Him.

I've wondered how much excess suffering I've endured because I was drowning in my pain, feeling that God was far away and didn't listen to my prayers instead of realizing that God so desired to save and redeem me but He loved me enough to wait until I turned to Him.

Today, especially, is one of those days where it would be much to easy to turn down the road of misery and despair.  I woke up and my pain was at a 10 out of 10.  All day, the littlest of movements rack my body with suffering that goes beyond the English language's ability to explain.  A little over 2 weeks ago my RSD/CRPS spread from my right arm, right shoulder, back, and right leg to include my left leg.  Today my right leg is so excruciating that it wants to completely give out when I put any weight on it, my left foot and ankle want to lock up and become immobile, and my back and arm feel like someone has poisoned talons wrapped around it's entire surface, shredding and stabbing away at my bones, flesh, and muscles.

But God is still good!
But God can still be trusted!
But God's promises are still true!
But God weeps when I weep!
But God will never leave me or forsake me!
Thank the Lord for the "but Gods...." =D

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Raw Honesty

*Spoiler Alert: This blog is going to be extremely raw and honest.  It's not going to be characteristic of my normal attitude, but it's where I am right now.*

I am done.  I have far and above exceeded my limit and I have nothing to draw strength from.  The pain has reached a new level of horrificness.  I get so frustrated because I can't think of a word or combination of words that even begins to adequately describe how awful it is.  I didn't think a body could create this much pain.  I don't know how I can hurt this much and not be dying.  It's like a cruel joke, let the girl continually feel like she's on fire, but, Ah Ha!, she's not actually on fire so you can't put it out! 

I am at that point where I don't even have the strength to try the next thing.  I'm so tired of trying this, but it doesn't work, so we try that.  It's this evil cycle of up and down emotions.  I'm just done.  I don't want to try another med.  I don't want to try another therapy.  I don't want to go to another doctor.  I don't want to waste anymore energy on fruitless endeavors.  I am emotionally and physically beyond exhaustion.  The Lord has been gracious and spiritually I've been pretty solid (which is all Him considering how I feel like the rest of my life is crumbling to dust). 

Every day the pain keeps whacking me in the head.  I know I shouldn't be having these thoughts and I shouldn't be dwelling on them, but I am having them and I am thinking on them.  I try so hard to stay optimistic, to put a smile on and act like everything is hunky-dory.  But right now I can't.  I'm coming out from behind the curtain. I am so frustrated, so discouraged, so disgusted, so angry about my condition.  I am 22 years old for goodness sake!!!!!!!!!  I have gained 40lbs in the last 6 months from three different kinds of meds I am on.  Nothing in my closet fit me so I had to go get new clothes.  Not exactly a confidence/mood booster.  Especially since I am eating less than I used to and still gaining like I'm having quadruplets.  And I can't even attempt to exercise any of it off because the pain is so debilitating.  It is SO frustrating to struggle to walk around the grocery store.  It's not fair.  I shouldn't have to worry about this type of thing at my age. Walking freaking hurts like, well, hell!!!  Walking. Not running, not biking, not ellipticaling, not even riding. WALKING! I mean 90 year old grannies can walk around with more ease than I can.  Every step I take is a painful reminder that I can't escape this pain. I wish I could go and ride like I used to, or go to the gym and have a good, long workout like I used to, but I can't!  

I've also bee really lonely lately.  I miss my friends in Kansas something awful.  My parents are the most incredible people on this planet and I love them dearly, but it's just not the same.  I miss late night movies and spontaneous meals.  I miss the laughing and the goofy fun that happened just because we were together.  I have made a couple friends here, but I don't get to see them very often.  And there's been a different type of loneliness.  It's really hard being in so much pain and not being able to describe it, knowing that even if there was some way I could no one could truly understand it because they don't live with it 86,400 seconds a day.  They can't understand what it's like to not be able to escape it, even for a moment.  It's just very lonely.

I know all this venting doesn't solve anything, but it's been cooped up in my head and I just needed to get it out.  Consider it an emotional purge.  I debated with myself back and forth if I should post this or just leave it in my drafts folder.  I don't think I've ever been this raw on something this public before.  But right now this is me and I think that as Christians we need to show unbelievers this side of our lives so that they realize that although we are saved and walking out in faith, life isn't always easy. BUT, at the end of the day, Christ is still worth it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Season for Everything...

I think that we've all heard the iconic song by The Byrds, "Turn, Turn, Turn", that was an interpretation of the verses in Ecclesiastes 3 that say:

"A Time for Everything"
 1 For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
 2 A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.
 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
 8 A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace.

These verses have been running circles around my brain lately so I thought I'd try to unscramble them all and learn something from them!  I'm not sure how familiar you are with chronic illnesses or, more specifically, chronic pain.  The one thing that I can say about it without any fear of exaggeration is that chronic pain makes you re-evaluate every aspect of your daily life.  But in the same breath, I can also say that there are things that happen in everyone's life that will cause them to stop are reassess where they are and where they want to go.  I can speak about chronic pain because that is the season in which I currently find myself.  The encouraging thing is that this season is just that, a season.  Even on days like today, when the pain is so excruciating, so horrendous that just breathing tests my strength, one of the things that I can cling to is the fact that it is just a season.  Does that mean that it's easy?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean that I will be healed tomorrow?  Nope.  But I know that one day will come when I will be healed!  Only our loving Father knows if that day will be this side of heaven or not, but I know that a day is coming when I will be relieved from this pain.

These past few weeks, this season has taken another unexpected and very difficult turn.  We found out last week that my precious grandfather has an advanced form of kidney cancer.  It has spread into his lymph nodes and abdomen.  When I heard the news I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and shattered into a million pieces.  I have always been extremely close to my grandfather.  He and I would talk for hours about horses, or K-State, or KU, or a book/movie we had just enjoyed.  We had no signs that the malignant tumor was ravaging his body for the weeks and months before his diagnosis.  There was a very real chance that we never would have discovered the cancer except that he was unusually tired and my grandmother wanted to make sure his thyroid levels were okay.  Even then, it took then a week and one half to find the tumor.  Unfortunately, due to the type of cancer and the advanced stage of it, my grandpa only has to endure this earth for a few more days.  While he has told us all that he isn't afraid to die, it is still difficult to realize that someone you love is going to die.  That's when the Ecclesiastes verse comes back into the picture.  In life, births and deaths are part of the perfect plan that the Lord has for us.  Knowing that death is not the absolute end for a Christian loved one helps to ease the sadness that comes with losing them. This weekend my family is going to Salina, Kansas, to thoroughly love on my grandparents.  It is going to be extremely hard, but also a big blessing.  The news was just a reminder of the fact that no one knows how many days the Lord has ordained for them and that we should enjoy each day and love others as if every day is our last!

Blessings friends!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Joys of School

The first full week of classes is officially underway and can I just say that I am LOVING my teaching classes! Oh my gracious, I had no idea classes could be so interesting and hold my attention so much!  I have become one of those students who, when the class ends, is disappointed that we can't have "just 5 more minutes!"  What can I say, God definitely has me in the right field!!  Right now I am taking: Teaching Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers, School Health, Intro to Early Childhood Education, and Education Aspects of Exceptional Learners!! *Sigh*  I think my favorite might end up being School Health which I never ever ever thought would be the case!  My professor is awesome though!  She's one of those ladies that is just enough funny and crazy to keep you engaged! 

Funny story about my Health Class... We meet in the basement of the Basketball Colliseum!  Now, for those of you who don't know or haven't been to a college basketball game, usually the court is at the bottom of row after row of stadium seats.  Well, UNT is no different.  On the first day of class last week, I spent forever trying to find how to get to that silly basement!! I walked around and around the top of the colliseum just hoping that someone would notice me and take pity of my poor attempts to find where the heck I was going!!  Thankfully, after about ten minutes a janitor spotted me (I might add that he finally said something after passing him a good 3-4 times!) and asked me if I was looking for the classrooms!  I very emphatically told him "Yes!" and then he gave me the instructions of how to get to the room.  Man, was I in for a surprise.  To get to the classroom, you have to leave the main entryways into the gym and go down to the service entrance.  It's this creepy, sloping drive that ends in massive doors that have covered in chipping green paint.  Not exactly what I had invisioned!  And let me tell you, if that nice man hadn't told me specifically to go through those doors there is absolutely NO WAY that I would have!! It looks like the entrance to some creepy, off-limits place that a God-fearing lady should NOT be going!! HAHAHAHA!  Anyways, I walked down the ramp and opened the chipped green door, only to be staring straight at the UNT basketball court!! My mind did a quick rewind to make sure that this was where I was supposed to be!  Surely there aren't two spooky, chipped green doors at the end of service ramps. I ventured forth and found the hallway that did indeed lead me to my classroom!  Talk about an unexpected adventure! =D

 On the flip side of that, my pain has really been causing me a lot of grief lately =(  For whatever reason, sleep has become a rare commodity and has begun to fuel a vicious cycle.  I am not able to sleep because the pain is so horrendous that it keeps me up at night.  However, lack of sleep exasterbates RSD symptoms, so the less I sleep the more pain I'm in.  The more pain I'm in, the less I sleep.  Not a fun game.  I'm praying that this season doesn't last very long and that I am able to emerge on the other side victorious! It sure is never boring being in the place that God is doing big things in your life!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Now I wish that I could take credit for that quote, but it was actually said by Vincent Van Gogh! But it very aptly describes my new outlook on life.  Since my last couple posts, one could say that a bunch has changed, and yet in the same breath not much has actually changed.  Praise the Lord I am now able to walk like a normal human being, which has been a tremendous blessing! Unfortunately, the pain is still all-consuming at times.  My arm/shoulder still make their presence very known in every avenue of my life, but I have a new battle plan to fight the pain that wants to hold me down.

I'm not going to let it.

I am reading "Life Without Limits" by Nick Vujicic.  Nick is a Christian evangelist who was born without arms or legs and yet has used his life mightily for the Lord.  And within the pages of that book I made a life-changing revelation.  God allowed me to see what I had been blinded to before!!  When the RSD spread to my back and decided to be a constant nasty monster in my life, I thought all the dreams, goals, and aspirations that I had before my accident were gone.  Destroyed.  But they aren't!!! True, the path has taken a DEFINITE detour to get to my destination, but the only thing stopping me from getting there was ME!  I had allowed the pain to control what I did, and what I didn't do.  Instead of living my life, I became so focused on how bad the pain was and on all the things that I could no longer do.  Talk about a self-defeating attitude!  I heard somewhere that if you look for the negative in life, you're sure to find it.  But the opposite is also true!  If you look for the positive, low and behold, you'll find lots of positives to be thankful for!!

So that's what I have started to do!  Instead of dwelling on the things that I am not able to do, I focus on ALL of the things that I AM able to do!  So I'll probably never jump or train horses like I was again, but I can still be around them and ride them!  So I can't go to school at K-State where all my friends are, I have the opportunity to keep those friends while making new ones and I get to see my family more!  When my perception of life flip-flopped I started living again!  I just switched my major from Speech Therapy which I was only mildly interested in, to Elementary Education with a second major in Special Ed.  I am beyond excited about it!! I have already started planning how I want to decorate my classroom! =-)  I have started tutoring again, and wow! has the Lord opened doors for me!! I have two students that I tutor 5 days/week, two that I tutor once a week, and one that wants me to tutor him!  I've started taken Ellie to the dogpark again, which she LOVES!  My joke is that when her tongue hits her eyeball--she's a happy dog!  I'm taking 15 hours at UNT.  I start a new Biblestudy tomorrow at church.  And I am teaching 3rd grade Sunday School to 20 precious little hearts!

I'm not going to lie, the pain still takes my breath away more that I care to think about.  And there is never a moment when I don't have a tremendous amount of pain, but I take those moments knowing that my life is way more than this stupid disorder!  Thank you Jesus for a change in perception! =-D

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming....

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite movies is Finding Nemo and my favorite character is Dory.  One of her many famous lines is "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming; what do we do, we swwwwwwwwwwim. We swwwwwwwwim!"  Oh I love it!  It is so funny, but the truth in that statement is also more and more obvious to me now.  When things get tough it would be easy for a little blue fish that has serious memory problems to throw in the seaweed and say she doesn't want to do it any more.  It might even be what all her "friends" might tell her is all she can do.  But is it what she does?  Nope.  She keeps doing what she loves.... SWWWWWWWIMMING!!!! =D  

Okay, so maybe this is a little far-fetched but I think that there is a lot of truth in comedy.  I know how easy it would be to say that since my life is vastly different than it used to be that there is no chance of ever being happy again.  And I have had a couple people, who I thought were my friends, try to make me feel guilty because I am no longer able to do as much as I could before.  But instead of allowing those few sour apples to spoil everything, I am choosing to be so thankful for the amazing friends that I have been blessed with.  Those precious ones who understand and love me unconditionally, those are the people that I want to invest in and want to cultivate lasting relationships with.  I'm choosing to "just keep..... walking!!" Hehehe!!!

A few months ago my mom found a quote in one of her devotionals that has stuck with me....

"By perseverance the snail made it to the ark."

How appropriate for the Christian life.  Sometimes the walk may be slow and arduous, but as long as we keep persevering, we will eventually make it safely to that ark!