Six Months

A lot of life can pass in the space of six months.

You can be the only teacher of your own class.

Your office can move to the other side of campus and you can gain epic window views. (Evidence below.)

You can pay off your debt except your house. Which is entirely because of the grace of God.

You can spend every minute missing a baby that you never knew outside of your stomach, too.

It’s been six months and one day since Cora died. We’ve been to grief counseling with a therapist four times. I’ve been to the doctor more times than I’ll count, and have had blood drawn more times than that. I’ve cried what feels like an infinite number of tears.

And life has kept going. The moment that I found out that she was gone, I felt like time stopped. The days following when labor was induced and she was delivered were so saturated with pain and grief that they felt like years. Coming home from the hospital with only two big people in the car and no tiny people felt like it took a year.

And time has kept the same pace. God has continued to provide, despite my struggles and complaints. When you grieve, it seems like time should slow down to let you sit with your pain. But it doesn’t.

Time marches on, and our lives have continued. Today, my grief feels heavier than some days for no particular reason.

If you find yourself in grief after a significant period,  you’re not alone. God is still good, even when you feel like a tattered teddy bear being pulled along by time.

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Perfect #sunrise at work. #Monday #goodmorning

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Psalm 34

1I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

4I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

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Pan

“El que en pan piensa, hambre tiene.”- Spanish proverb

Translation: “He who thinks about bread is hungry.”

2015.01.25 Pan

I am very hungry. I am hungry for (want) what I think about and what I focus on. I want what I allow my mind to focus on. And the things that I want aren’t “bad” in and of themselves. But they become negative when they make me focus on myself and what I want instead of serving Christ.

I tell myself “it’s okay to want these things. You’ve waited so long for them.” And I have waited a long time for them.  They are things that Husband-Man and I have prayed about and feel let to pursue. But God’s plan doesn’t conform to the next-in-line rule. I may have been waiting longer than my girlfriend, and she may have already been granted the blessings that I have waited for for a very long time. But that doesn’t mean that I am next in line, because “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, ESV). God chooses to move as He sees fit, regardless of my “ideal time-line”.

God also doesn’t want me to focus on anything before Him. Period. In the ten commandments (Exodus 20), God lays out a set of commandments, and “you shall have no gods before Me” is the first commandment on the list. What I focus on more than my relationship with Christ becomes sinful, because I’ve gotten my priorities wrong. 

I get myself in big trouble with my thoughts. I focus on myself and what I want, I focus on where my friends are compared to where I want to be. I think about the thing that I want instead of to who Christ is. I focus on my lack instead of His greatness. I focus on me. And it poisons my heart.

And did I come to this realization on my own?

No.

No I did not. I am so thankful for Christian community and for friends that are willing to say difficult words of encouragement. For friends that are willing to tell me that I’m focusing on myself more than I’m focusing on Christ (translation: it’s not about me). Praise God for gentle correction in a spirit of love. Praise God for my friend Victoria who reminded me that “for every look at [myself], look at Jesus 10 times”.

I’ve been listening to God Centered Mom podcast with Stephanie Rische (Ep. 56) recently, even though I’m not a mom. In her interview, Stephanie talked about God fulfilling her desires on His timeline. Her willingness to share about her difficulty spoke to me. I have to be reminded that God is good and will be good period, with no conditions. He is good if I never own a home. He is good is I never become a mother. He is good regardless of Husband-Man’s health.

These words are me preaching to myself, with the help of a Godly community and resources. I am working, and failing more often than not, to take my thoughts captive and submit them to God (2 Cor. 10:5). I am struggling as I write this to turn my thoughts to who Jesus is and to what He tells us about Himself.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34, ESV

Every day, we’re going to think. Every day, we have to decide what our “pan” (bread) will be; what the focus of our minds will be. Will our bread be our desire for anything but drawing closer to God? Let’s decide to hold God as our “pan” each moment at the forefront of our thoughts. And when any of us fails, let’s commit to gently admonishing each other when we lose focus.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 ESV

When you CAN’T Make Your Art

2014.12.02

I love to create. And what I love to create varies by the season of life in which I find myself.

When money was tight and Husband-Man and I newly married, I crocheted hats for all of our family’s Christmas presents. These were, however, no ordinary hats. They were designed for each family member. One was a monster with horns and eyes, others were stylish and slouchy, and others still were super functional and warm.

When studying business for a bachelors and masters degree, my art was the perfectly crafted resume or research paper. You may not find art in a visually pleasing and content rich document, but I do. I crafted it with my hands and mind, and it has the possibility to open doors of employment and avocation for many.

When I got sick of all the business writing required of me as a student, I would sing. I sang with chamber and concert choirs, practicing an hour a day and performing at concerts and on tours. I relish the feeling of my voice blending with my neighbors, creating one voice to convey a message of peace, joy, hope, or sadness.

When desperate and tired from illness and work, my art consisted of tear stained words that were sometimes legible, scribbled in a gorgeous leather journal.

This past month, I haven’t been doing my art. And I’ve been miserable.

My wrist still hasn’t healed well. I’m in and out of a brace, preventing me from cutting pieces for sewing, holding a needle to embroider, holding a book of music to sing, crocheting, writing by hand, and sometimes even typing. I’m not in terrible pain, but I’ve been told that rest is the only way my tendons can heal.

I am not good at rest.

I have NEVER been good at rest. I get antsy, and mean. I feel useless and unfulfilled.

And sometimes, I have ignored my doctor’s orders for rest, and in desperation, have tried to create something. And I have been frustrated that my creation has been weak, like my wrist.

What has God been teaching me?

That is hard to say. I’ve spent this entire year waiting, so  you’d think that this would be easy. But, my escape has been taken away from me. I can’t feel better by being creative in my normal ways. I can’t escape into a project and forget the world for a while.

So, I have no where left to turn. My art, my creation, is not here to make me feel better, so there’s only one more place to turn.

Even when your wrist is hurt, you can still lift your hands. My voice can still sing, and my mind can still study. It’s back to basics (with a lot of prayer for healing).

Happy December, friends.

Just Enjoy

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 31

It’s the last day of October! I can’t believe that this day has come. It’s been such a fun month of making new friends, learning about writing regularly, and growing in a community I didn’t know about.

So, as we come to the close on this Halloween Day, it’s time for one more #write31days confession.

I don’t understand my husband. He’s an alien that lives in my house. He eats strange things, falls asleep like it’s his job, and has a strange way of focusing on only one thing at a time. Often, when we’re snuggled on the couch or in bed, I look at him as ask him what he’s thinking.

And he looks at me and tells me, “I’m just enjoying.”

This used to drive me crazy. How could he not be thinking? How can he just be 100% here? It makes zero sense to me. How is his mind not working?

This process of working through our year of waiting has made me reconsider how crazy I think he is. I want to “just enjoy”. I want to be 100% here, in this moment, very happy to have accomplished the goal of writing thirty one days, but even happier that God has used this process to bring new friends into my life and to help me grow with Him.

So, let’s “just enjoy” together. What are you “just enjoying” right now?

Thank you for waiting with me.

It’s not “Going to be Okay”

 

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 29

When I’m having a rough time, I feel like the world is going to end. When I don’t know what choice to make, when my heart hurts because it longs for something that it’s not quite time for, when Husband-Man gets crazy sick out of no-where, when when Husband-Man and I aren’t speaking the same language, I feel desperate. I feel alone and hopeless. And I forget who God is. I forget His faithfulness.

My internal dialogue when I start to notice that I’m getting desperate and hopeless has been, up until this year, “it’ll be okay”. But that stopped helping me this year. Looking at the phrase, it doesn’t apply to today. It only applies to the future. It doesn’t speak to today. It doesn’t touch now. It tells my heart: “just wait. For some undisclosed future moment. One day, you’ll be fine. Today, you’re not.”

Looking at how God describes Himself in scripture, “it’ll be okay” doesn’t match. In Exodus, when Moses was flipping out about doing what God told him to do, the Bible says “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14, ESV) God calls Himself “I am”. That, grammatically, means that God spans past, present, and future. Think about it. “I am” speaks to all of time. He is God and He is good across time. He is as good tomorrow as He is today. So “it’ll be okay” means that God is only good tomorrow to my heart. It means that I’m waiting for the end of whatever is making me panic and I’m not seeking God in the process.

I’m not working to honor Him now. I’m not praising Him for going through what hurts but is ultimately for good.

So, instead, I say “it’s okay now”. Why? Because God is good all the time. Because I don’t need answers or resolution. I need Jesus. And I can draw near to Him NOW. That’s the only thing that helps.

What is “okay now” in your life?

Endurance

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 28

This Tuesday, the last Tuesday in October, I wanted to share the most significant scripture to me in my time of waiting. It’s one that took a long time to come to peace with, because I struggled with it’s truth.

Romas 5:1-11 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

My suffering produces endurance, that endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

It has nothing to do with things getting better in a physical sense. It has only to do with drawing closer to Christ. That’s it.

This truth doesn’t feel good at first. I want to be rescued from my pain. But instead of my idea of a rescue, I am rescued by a God who sees fit to allow me to suffer to draw me closer to Him.

When you consider it, it’s good. It hurts, but it’s good.

So, my friends, endure. Hold on. And rejoice in your suffering.

October

Day 27

October has been my month of “falling apart”. I have been in and out of doctor’s offices all month. Am I sick like Husband-Man is sick? Nope. I just have a cluster of yuck that’s not wanted to go away.

No matter how much I’d like to whine about how miserable this month has been, I’m going to refrain. You don’t want to know. You REALLY don’t want to know.

So, have I handled this cluster of yuck well? No. I haven’t.  Let’s be real. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve made Husband-Man feel bad while I lay on the couch and refuse to move. I’ve bemoaned driving to the doctor and getting tests done. (Poor me. I have access to excellent medical care. #firstworldproblems #brat #notcoolself.) I’ve cried some more. I’ve complained.

I’ve been attempting to make Mondays in October about being “around the house”, and this month, I’ve made my house yucky. And I’m ashamed of it.

And of course, I want to tell the internet-world that I’m great and I’ve got all the stuff together. Lies. All lies.

So, around the house this week, I’m failing. I’m sick (with what we still don’t know), and I’m waiting to get better. This week, I want to try to wait better. To tell God about my yuck and to trust Him.

What has your yuck been? Do  you need to wait with more grace?

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Date

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

I enjoy dates so much. I enjoy spending time with Husband-Man, but our definition of a “date” has changes over the first few years of our marriage.

Our first date was not fun. He’d been my boyfriend for three months (and had been out on the middle of the woods for 2.99 of those months working for a camp), and finally took me out to the local pizza place after our summer jobs were over. He was so uncomfortable. He wouldn’t talk, didn’t start any conversations, and was so awkward. He told me later that it was because he had never been on a date before, and it made him nervous. Part 2 of our date included hunting for crawdads in the creek behind our college’s soccer field, and he relaxed and turned back into himself when the dress shirt came off and he was back in his sandals playing in the mud.

Our dates now usually involve us eating something that requires minimal amount of  work, cuddling on the couch watching a movie, and him falling asleep on me while I talk to him during the movie.

I waited and waited for our first date because I had placed it on a pedestal, but in truth, dates now are about making our work and obligations wait, and focusing on each other.

And it’s wonderful.

Day 25

Results

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

On Fridays this month, I’ll be telling the story of Husband-Mans journey through illness this year. This post is about our struggle with test results.

After three months of tests and agony, Husband-Man started getting phone calls from staff at his specialist’s office. One nurse called and said that his test indicated that he didn’t have autoimmune hepatitis, so we went in for another (much less painful) test. After the easier test (an endoscopy where Husband-Man was put to sleep before they scoped his insides), he got a phone call from another nurse that he had autoimmune hepatitis and that he needed to start treatment immediately. And the nurse calling didn’t know why he had been giving conflicting reports, so she couldn’t tell us what was going on. And she took a message for the doctor, but he didn’t call back.

Husband-Man didn’t know what to do. We had spent so much time waiting for news, but the news we were getting didn’t make sense. We had a diagnosis, but we didn’t know where it had come from. And we couldn’t get to the source. We couldn’t get to the doctor. Husband-Man called and left messages for the doctor, and the doctor would call back when he was asleep. And when Husband-Man would call back, the doctor wouldn’t be available.

So, Husband-Man scheduled an appointment. And he found out that on a scale of 1-4 (4 being the worst damage that can be done to your liver and 3.2 being irreversible damage), the damage to his liver was a 3. He found out the the second test was to rule out another possible condition that could have done so much damage to his liver, and that there was no sign of the other condition. He found out that they only way to know for sure was to begin treatment and see if the markers in his blood indicated that the swelling in his liver had decreased.

So, we got a diagnosis. And the diagnosis was “wait and see”. I wanted to curl up and cry. So I did. Why was God making us wait so long? Why couldn’t we just have definitive news and have the opportunity to deal with it?

But, with the diagnosis came treatment. And the treatment reduced the swelling of his liver. And slowly, my husband started eating again, feeling like moving, and turning back to his normal skin tone. And eventually the diagnosis of “most likely autoimmune hepatitis” became “almost sure autoimmune hepatitis”.

Day 24

Have you ever waited for some major event and found out that it was just another step towards more waiting? How did you react?

End of the Day

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 23

 

I am so guilty of this. Sometimes, I count the hours, minutes, and seconds until I get off work. And it’s not because I don’t enjoy my job. I enjoy my job very much. But sometimes, I forget to be where I am. I forget to stop counting the minutes until I get to come home and feed Husband-Man. I count the minutes until I’m “done”.

And that robs me. It robs my employer, family, friends, and most of all, me. When I count down until I’m done with what I’m doing now, I don’t learn from my circumstance. I don’t fully invest in who I’m with or what I’m doing.

So today, try to not count the minutes until you get home. Try to not count the minutes until the baby goes to sleep or you get to move on to your next task. Instead, try to be where you are. While waiting for your current preferred “next”, remember that you don’t get another “now” like this one again. Work to be present. Work to wait for the next and be present in the now. It’s incredibly rewarding.

What do you find yourself missing out of while you waiting?