Ashamed

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For the first time in a long time, I feel ashamed, small, and meek because of my God.  That is as far opposite as a Christian is supposed to feel, much less admit and testify to.  We’re only supposed to highlight the good and trust in the best, when really we feel completely abandoned and embarrassed that our God wasn’t as powerful as we thought.  I know it sounds awful.  Try having it in your heart and come from your head.  I am the worst disciple on the planet.  Try hearing it over and over when you really just wanted to believe you did have faith in the one true God.  Everything comes into question.

I recently jumped out of a plane.  I seriously got my mind around the concept of skydiving.  My anxious, control-freak self was able to get my brain beyond the roadblock of fear some might face when jumping out of a plane at 18,000 feet.  I am an “extreme athlete” now.  Sort of a big deal.  Ha.  It’s a peculiar thing, this skydiving.  My biggest take-away, beyond the physical nature of falling through sky, was how powerful my mind can be.  If I can do this one thing, I can do lots of other things.  Right?  In reality, though, this is it!  There are not lots of other things I am going to do or will get to do, no matter how well trained my brain is.

Behind the scenes of my husband’s fortieth and launching myself from the clouds, I had some blood work done for a pretty rare, seemingly unlikely disease.  I had tested positive for it once before, and it was the last real feasible suggestion we had at why I was struggling so much with my legs and pain right now.  We definitely noticed a decline in my walking starting in October 2018.  It was originally treated as sciatica without relief.  10 months into it, I am pulling my cane out on long walking trips, and learning which drugs help the most when the spasms and stiffness kick in like mad.  I am getting better at dealing with it, but it still sucks and is progressing to include both legs and bigger spasms.

Long story short, this last test was negative.  I knew it was a double-edged sword, this last lab…  if it was positive, it would offer the chance at a new hope, even though it would come with a crappy diagnosis.  Of course I don’t want the disease, I just wanted a chance at feeling better.  The first appointment at my new neurologist, last August or so, she told me I had a “mild” case of MS.  She told me this spring that my leg and walking problems aren’t presenting the way they should for MS. I just can’t see myself going back to her begging her to see someone who is more than just “mildly” ill with dramatic leg pain she doesn’t get.  Why does that have to be a battle?

I didn’t medicate with any of my pregnancies.  They wanted to send me home when I came in with my first because I wasn’t scrunching my forehead enough during contractions; I wasn’t expressing enough pain to indicate labor.  They found out, real quick, when we came back that I wasn’t messing around.

I wish it was easy to tell the doctors you don’t feel good and actually get help.  There was one moment I had, in the long history of trying to figure out what is wrong with me  – remember, I was told I was crazy on my 23rd Birthday by Idaho’s self-proclaimed “lead MS doctor” (insert vomit face here), and I wasn’t diagnosed with MS until I was 34.  I was helped at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.  That is not the point. The point is, there was this one resident, a young gal, and she was doing her exam of me and we talked about where I was mentally.

At that time a pastor in our town had been diagnosed with a throat cancer of some type.  He had two possible outcomes: he would go to heaven or he would live.  I told this doctor that he had better options than I did.  She said, “Are you saying it would be better for you to die?”  I answered, “It would be better for me to die, than to continue suffering the way I have had to.”  She took me real serious.  She went out of her way to get a spinal tap done and that test was the one test that was positive enough that I would get help.

“Help” was hopeful in the beginning.  There were options.  But, now without as many of those options, and the steady pain in my body, the help available to me is no longer enough.  The hope fades fast.

The realization that God doesn’t have a plan for me to prosper or to be healthy are hard.  The realization that God is okay with the pain I’ve had and the pain that will come is hard.  He is all powerful and could stop it, but found someone like me, who deserves it…  and that just makes lots of tears.

Today, all I have to offer God is a pretty broken heart.  I am the worst possible poster child for a “be all you can be” Christian message of any sort.  Today all I have are a lot of tears as I look forward to the future.  There is a very small way for me to keep my shop, but I am not going to be able to keep up physically doing the work I enjoy.  It is humbling to know that this is the plan God has for me.  It feels incredibly difficult to get my brain around all the painful days left in my life without even the hem of his garment to dry my eyes.

 

 

 

The truth hurts, but the cooler looks good.

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I recently found myself in a situation where I responded to life in a pretty ugly way.  I didn’t want to come back and explore this, but I know I have to.  Humility.  It’ll cold cock ya.

So, especially this year, but maybe the last six months to be sure, I have been working on attitude, positivity, Christlike living and poof!  Out of nowhere a wrench is thrown into my system and pangs me right where a super ugly piece of my heart is revealed.

I saw in my response someone who relied on the approval of others to be complete.  I saw someone who confused what it was to be liked and to be loved and to be valued.  I saw someone caught up in earthly worth.  I was so embarrassed with myself.

The matter at hand I’m talking about involves the pressures of small town living, business’ing, and social media.  I missed an opportunity that somebody else took, and totally nailed.  As a business person, I felt I had failed.  In these moments, it was also revealed that there was more that I had missed in the background.  Another florist popped up with roots in valley.  Their business is shared on social media and in these tender moments of scrolling through images, I also realized I had lost customers.  It is as painful to me today as it was the day I had discovered it.  It felt like I wasn’t good enough.  I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t look myself in the mirror.

This experience caused me to reflect inward, hard, and find out what was really making me tick.  There was so much pain.  Why is this hurting me?  Instead of running from the ugliness I tried to understand what caused it.  I felt so vulnerable.  Rooted in my DNA, part of my environmental childhood expectations, being liked has always been important to me.  Winning is extremely important.  Not being liked is hard.  It means not good enough.  It means bad.  It means losing.  Losing is my fault.

Winning likes and status in social media is something my children are very well aware of in their tender ages.  With social media, you can see who likes and who does not like your posts as an individual.  I have a lot of “acquaintances” on my Facebook page.  Some people who really dislike me in real life.  I have no clue why we are social media friends?  And, does this “friendship” have different rules than real life relationships? Although I have a few people I question, I am confident most people I am “friends” with support me as a human being.

In business, however, your view is different.  Your goal is to make a product people like, people want, and that people will value.  How do you respond when your product isn’t liked, isn’t wanted, isn’t valued?

Is not liking my craft reflective of how people feel about me?  How do you de-personalize the situation?  How do you unfold the virtual dislike with the physical?  In a small town, you are in close proximity to your competition, to your customers, to your friends, and to your un-friends.  Not being liked on Facebook feels the same as the people who see me in town but look away or only respond to me if I smile or wave, first.  They don’t like me.  They have enough energy to click like on any flowers that aren’t mine, but I am not even worth eye contact.  People who I feel look down on me.  People who really do not believe I am good enough.  How do you handle this as a human?

Ultimately, my God has to be my base.  He provides my work.  He provides my paycheck.  He provides my skill.  I do not have to be afraid that I will be abandoned by all my customers.  I do not have to feel humiliated that I didn’t do good enough.  I can love others who despise me with the love of Christ.

I am learning to accept that we are all extensions of God’s spirit.  We are all connected on a human level.  I have no reason to fear.  No reason to fear.

I’ve learned to keep a short list of whose opinions matter most to me.  God’s voice has to be first and He thinks I am pretty rad.  Instead of feeling threatened by competition, I am embracing that God uses all of us to express His beauty.  It is embarrassing to admit to having to go through these emotions and thoughts.  They feel childish and selfish, but they are true.  I feel constantly shaken down by my internal voice.  My internal monitor for self value relied so heavily on how the town around me responded to me.

Letting bits of Weiser go and realizing that I may not be all the people’s first choice florist in the valley was hard.  I thought it meant I sucked.  It’s taken a bit to realize that I have actually done more than just failed as a floral designer:  I’ve kept an itty bitty flower shop alive in a small town when flower shops everywhere are vanishing.  I’ve kept my doors open for twelve years, I’ve learned to process and design affordable flowers that my community can buy.  I work hard to keep a cooler full for walk-ins as well as monitoring specialty flowers for custom work.  I’ve kept multiple people employed with a reliable form of part-time work.  I’ve learned to sorta balance the areas of the floral industry – funeral, wedding, holidays, commercial, plants, gifts, and more.  I am not able to be the center of the downtown activities association, but I have been content with providing the best possible product I can with what I have for a town that holds a piece of my heart.

I sacrificed a big piece of my dignity to be liked earlier this year.  Liked by one person.  One person who is never going to like me!  I made a business commitment I wouldn’t have made if I had seen more on social media.  They don’t even like my product!  Here I am trying to win this person over and the whole time, and in “real life” I didn’t even have a chance.  I have to honor the pledge I made.  I feel so foolish.  I will keep my word when the time is right.  If I do not have my word, I have nothing.  It is the most important piece of me I can give.

I am also pushing myself to give more to the creativity and growth end of things at the business.  Designating the basics to my staff to save my energy for the blossoms and final product.  The pressure of having competition has spurred me to step up my game – educate myself, make thoughtful new choices, and branch out.  Creating a higher end arrangement while still maintaining an affordable product that is realistic to duplicate and resell in a small country town.

There are advantages to being aware of your competition.  Competition will always exist.  I realize, now, that I am not going to be everyone’s favorite and I am okay with being ordinary and consistent.  I am okay with people buying flowers from somebody else because we genuinely do have different styles, availability, affordability.  Loyalty, though?  There will be heaps of love for those who remained loyal.  It is the ones I wasn’t good enough for that get me sad.  Learning how to navigate through the unique world of social media, while also rubbing shoulders with the people who virtually don’t like you in the grocery store, is a pretty awkward storm to splash through, and I will get there.  If it weren’t a small town, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.

In all circumstances, if my anchor isn’t buried in my identity in Christ, I will be shattered.  I will drown. He alone gives me value.  He gives me the strength to keep trying.  Believe me, I want to quit.  Where is the quitting place?  I’ve really asked myself this.  “If we choose to quit, where does one enroll in quitting?  Can I drive?  Shall I text me an uber?”

I know I can’t quit.  I know it’s not an option.  I’m not going to lie, though.  This past summer I have thrown up my hands a few times.  The eye of the storm isn’t easy but, it does make you a bit productive.  You learn to get rid of dead weight quick.  I am throwing off the shackles of pleasing people who I cannot please.  I know who my people are.  I know who my employer is.  I know what my mission is.  I know someday this will all be a little mist on an otherwise extraordinary eternity.

In this vapor, it has been a tremendous gift to be used in a unique way of illustrating God’s beauty on the canvas that is little town Idaho.

Rejection

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Maybe it’s all this sunshine I’ve been getting. Maybe it’s just a season of life.  Maybe it’s actual change.  That’d be the best!

We were recently told that we were not accepted to see anyone at the Lucinda Bateman clinic in Utah.  We were hoping that they could offer a supplemental diagnosis that could explain and treat the pain I am having, the walking issues, the leg and hip stiffness.  If the record reviewers don’t think they can offer you anymore help – diagnosis, prescription, or otherwise-they won’t even see you.

My MS diagnosis is a wonky one and it’s hard to explain and discuss.

I cried hard and big after I got the call that I was rejected.  The denial by the clinic took away a breath of hope I had.  Hope that life could be different and that maybe I wouldn’t have to change my life because of deteriorating health problems that could be treated.  The doctor here suggested the Mayo Clinic, again.

I need time to recover and think, so I have hesitated to consent.  I have been too busy living to want to deal with a lot of things that need to be dealt with.  I thought I would have time this summer to filter through everything and offer a more thoughtful real estate brochure for the sale of my flower shop and have a complete package to present the potential buyer.  Um… dude.

For starters, July was busier at the shop than I have had in the recent five years, if not, ever.  It is supposed to be the slow time, the time to rest and recover and explore the Northwest geocaching with my crew. We went out and did a few things, but were overwhelmed with business, otherwise.

The good ole Lord must be carrying me through this chaos, the normal Dana would be falling apart. Believe me, there are moments. But, I am not living there, somehow. I firmly believe this will be a chapter of my life that I look back and see one set of footprints.  God has to be involved in this.

In all honesty, I feel pretty crappy physically.  I feel like I am suffering minute by minute.  You never know what part of your body you will be dealing with today or next week.  Last week the right side of my neck and head hurt immensely.  Pain and burning I felt on the outside of my head.  Almost like a force, only from the inside out. I felt like a freak.  A hypochondriac, right?  It was so stupid sounding, I couldn’t even call the doctor to discuss.  Just tried to medicate it away.  It is hard.   Instead of a pillow, it feels like a 2×4 under your neck.  In addition to the normal stuff in my legs, arms, shoulders, and back.

This week I am having trouble with the left side of my neck.  Sitting down is miserable.  The aching and cramping kick in.  It’s either stay moving, stay medicated, or sleep.  And, severe leg pain wakes me up hourly throughout the night.  I can’t look up or at anything for a long period of time.  I am pretty sure my kidneys hurt from all the ibuprofen and tylenol and baclofen and caffeine.

I have devised a small plan of attack go forward.

I’ve reached out to my neurologist to have one last blood test ordered here at the local place.  It’s the last funky test that I’ve had.  If that is negative, then I really truly have some totally wackadoo presentation of MS.  If it is as positive as it was before, or greater, I know I am onto something and I will pursue the nation’s foremost authority on SPS at Johns Hopkins in Maryland.

In the meantime, delegation has become a new “area of growth” of mine. Passing on my tasks to both of my employees.  Trying to regularly give them more details to keep so I don’t have to. Going to start looking to hire someone to fill the cooler regularly and also fill in when I’m not able.  Freedom. I’ve really been enjoying the time I have at home and with my kids and family.  This is surprising and good to me. Doesn’t that sound awful? I think it’s because it’s been sitting around really *with* each other, playing a game, working on the yard together, and setting a different pace of life. My kids desperately need me to see them right now.

I’ve been learning to love people as they are, as Jesus would, not as they should be.  It’s so liberating and brings so much joy. It is not as easy as it sounds. An amazing soul once told me that we all the ability to love perfectly. I thought he was asinine. It’s true. He was right. We love perfectly when we love as Christ.

I’ve been doing a lot of listening while I work.  Scripture, Brene Brown, music, John Piper.  My brain is literally aching at all the interweaving of relevant learning God implements into our lives as we seek Him, seek more, and desire to be the best versions of ourselves He created.

Learning about self talk, self worth, and continuing to present the best light I have forward no matter how hard the darkness tugs.  And does it tug.  Daily, hourly, always persistent to bring on shame, fear, guilt, worthlessness.

It is no coincidence that the combined lessons God culminated for me recently involve learning where my worth comes from, whose opinion really matters to me, and how to identify, combat, and diminish the pain in a healthier way.  Of course it will take me a bit to figure it all out.  I am learning to be okay with it being a slower process than I had hoped. I am learning to be okay with mistakes. Learning to look at myself with love, a tiny bit.

I am excited to pursue being the best human being I can be with the commission to endure a unique suffering in chronic illness, domestic violence, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.  Getting comfortable with writing my book, for reals!  Like, really putting a piece of me out there to be judged and examined and scoured.  It is terrifying and it needs to be done.  If I don’t allow the light of Christ to shine through my suffering, it would be for nothing.

There are hard days and hard moments when I forget my goal.  I take my eyes off the prize, completely consumed by all the busy-ness of life, the family, the shop, drama, problems, and overwhelming pressure to keep going despite physical pain.  It is these times I crumble big, take long breaks, and often rely on those who love me most to lift me back up.

I am thankful for the chance to share my story.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have a safe place to write, breathe, feel, and share just what I need. Exhale.

 

Amen.

Landslide

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I have often, in my most vulnerable form, felt disgusted with and at myself.  In fact, my perception is that I have often disgusted others.  Mother, father, spouse, sister, children, and half of Weiser were probably disgusted with me at some point.  The mistakes I’ve made and continue to make.  Hypersensitivity, they say.  If being who I am and just not being enough for some folks, is hypersensitive, then, yes, that is what I have.  Especially in a small town, a small place.  You know.  It’s becoming more apparent to me – my wonky behavior and inability to handle situations of not winning, not being chosen, and feeling rejected.  Understanding why this pain hurts me so deep and why I do what I do in response.

I believe that it all goes back to repulsing my loved one out of my life.  Someone who was supposed to love me forever, but couldn’t.  Someone who caused me so much pain, but couldn’t love me.  It burned so deep, hard to breathe.  It sparked a spiral of flaming chaos in my already tender heart.

The realization that all relationships in my life are endable and that I am rejectable in my purest form was just too much to handle.  It carried over into the rest of my life.  Okay, that’s being modest.  The consequences of PTSD, years of emotional confusion, and finally the rejection by my parent, were a perfect landslide of chaos for my life.  I could no longer carry it all.  My 30’s were a disaster.

As I prepare to close the journey I have been on at the flower shop, in addition to entering my forties in several months, the song “Landslide” resonates with me.  I play it often while I’m working alone.  Tears trickle the counter and sprinkle broken stems and discarded petals.  I have been so afraid of change.  Totally built a life around a flower shop.  Here I am old and sick.  Albeit bolder.  Ready to step into who I am and what I can do with this chance.

The decision to sell the shop came at a time when I desperately wanted to continue to make it mine and improve it.  But, I knew with a few months of physical therapy there was no coming back.  I was plateaued, for now, in a situation, where owning and working at the store is just too much for me.  It is humbling.  I never thought it would end this way.  This soon.

With MS and whatever else is causing my leg and walking problems, my shoulders, neck, and arms, to be too tired, my hitting a wall of fatigue with a few hours of work…  It’s not compatible with all that needs to be done.  I am not enough right now and that makes me very sad.

We are presently trying to get in with Dr. Linda Bateman in Utah to see if an additional test or diagnosis other than Multiple Sclerosis might be helpful with my treatment.  What are we missing, Lord?  I expect to find out, anytime, if they think they can help me at the Utah clinic.  They won’t see you if they don’t think they can offer anything beneficial.  I have to hope, right?  I can’t live like this forever.

My hip issue is resolving tremendously.  I believe there was inflammation in the joint, probably caused by spasticity, that caused bursitis.  This is my theory, alone, after my own research.  Treating that inflammation has not completely healed the hip, but has helped 50%.  My walking is much less painful.  I still have an almost always there pain, specifically in the back of both my legs.  It’s aching and has been there for over ten years.  Last November, the right leg became dramatically worse with cramps and stiffness, but now the left is starting in.  Is this progression?  Anywhere from a light cramp, to the feeling of meat being torn off the bone. Down my shin, inner thigh, the outside of the thigh is the worst…  My knee has super rad fasciculations, like, right on the side of my knee cap.    There are nights when stabbing my leg would feel better than the pain I am in.  I think the Neurontin has helped a bit with some of the general leg pain, but I am not satisfied with the issue being resolved in any way.  There is mild to severe cramping and pain in the leg whenever I am sitting for a few minutes, standing for a few minutes, or laying down in one position for too long.  I can no longer bend the leg at night because it will spasm until I get it straight.  Even then, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Baclofen, Neurontin, Requip, repeat…  my days are a constant cycle of medicating just to get around.  Waking up in pain most nights.  I am half the person I used to be – if that.

I. Am. Grieving.

Transitioning to a different life and letting God take over is pretty wild.  I laugh as I think I really have no idea what could happen.  My goal is to make it to August 31 with the shop.  A perfect florist’s dozen of twelve years ownership!  If I don’t get any bites, we will transition to an at home work environment for me.

I am trying to add as much as I can to the shop to get her dolled up and attractive to a buyer.  I am making daily strides to make little things better.  I am keeping busy.  I am trying to keep moving forward, even though I feel defeated.  It is hard.

I look forward to the day when I see what God was doing and understand His plan.  He wouldn’t allow the pain if there isn’t something phenomenal He could do with it.  He is the only One who will never be disgusted by me.  He is the only one who thinks I have value when I feel deeply sad by the people in my own world who don’t.

 

 

 

Tres Hilos

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People in church would say when sumpthin’ keeps coming to you and you keep thinking on it or resonating with it, it’s some sorta “spiritual heartburn.”  Your spirit is working to sort something out or even prompting you to talk to someone and share your thoughts.  People outside of church might say it’s just where I am in the journey of life.

In my opinion, I guess this may be more of a prompting by the Spirit because, I don’t think this experience is one that one would really want aired out to dry.  The value in what I will share, in the right ears, far outweighs damage to my reputation.  To God be the glory, right?

My husband and I both grew up in what one might say were dysfunctional environments.  We both particularly struggled with our fathers.  It has taken years for the pain to dull.  The scar that is left in these relationships is easily raw with irrational fears made fresh in both old and new memories.  Our parents will admit, and we will agree, that the model of marriage, habits, communication, and general relationship skills we learned were not the same as others in healthier environments.  In all honor to our mom’s and dad’s, I believe they did the best they could, they way they knew how, just like I’m doing now.  I can only imagine the therapy my children will need!

Toby and I have both been shackled to the ways of life we both learned and brought into our marriage.  Completely ignorant to it for the first 10 years, at least, right?  We were so in love.  I literally knew he was the one I wanted the day I first saw him and before his now ex-girlfriend introduced us that day.  Insert a winky smile for me here, will ya?

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We.  Were.  So.  In.  Love.  We asked zero questions about expectations and goals and dreams and things that most married people may bring up before getting married.  We were just happy.  And, we didn’t get married quick. We waited two years.  We were seriously fueled by love, coffee, and nicotine. And probably a little Jagermesiter.

We were married at 21.  We had struggled with my health already and at 23 we first found the lesions on my brain MRI.  The tremor started about then, too.  Here we are these young, stupid kids thinking we’ve got it figured out.  Ignorance was so bliss.

We moved to Weiser with toddler in tow,  a cancer-ridden grandma, had a baby, bought a house, bought a flower shop, bought another house, had another baby, earned a black belt in jiu jitsu, fought cancer hard, finally got diagnosed with MS, and in the middle of it…  the love wore thin.

Toby was working long, hard hours at a job he did not love, but had to keep.  He was commuting to Boise adding several extra hours to his day.  It was stressful for him.  I write to vent, misdirected my anger at him, and he still has pause when getting texts from me.    While in Boise he was able to use his lunch hours to work out and began attending classes at a jiu jitsu studio.  He found his passion for the sport and was thankful to have an outlet for this difficult way of life he was having to deal with.

I was at home feeling abandoned and overwhelmed.  Biting off well-more than I could chew, which was how I liked it, but it was at the cost of my quality of life.  The stress of keeping up with life became a trigger to health flares.  The shop was intended to be a creative outlet for me, but has slowly turned into a difficult job the more my health has slowly declined.

My health has been like that for us.  Always with us, a slow drain on extracurricular activities, finances, attitudes.  A slow, painful deterioration.  It can be as bleak as it sounds.  I woke up fine yesterday, but could hardly walk by last night due to problems in my lower back.  I am trying to resolve that issue today.  I know I don’t have a back injury, it’s just this portion of what my illness looks like today.  It’s painful, debilitating.  Humiliating.  I have so much to do.  I cannot concentrate on much.  In between bouts of physical activity is lots of laying down.  In this laying down time I think mostly randomly, but the Holy Spirit nudges me to share what the Lord has done.

Throughout the story of our relationship, Toby and I drifted, pulled back, threw-in, and nearly ended our legal agreement to be married because there was just so much stress, pain, hurt, anger, and life was greater than we felt we could handle, on top of having to deal with normal conflicts in marriage.  Our marriage was strained.  Attacked.  Every time we could come back together in recent years, something more dramatic than the last would happen, leaving this gaping wound, in both of our hearts, wide open.  It seemed almost planned at times, happening just after a rebound, at the epicenter of one of us having a major ordeal, and intentionally designed to strip us apart.  We each tried all the negative ways we knew to deal with these relational and conflict problems, which in themselves caused more problems.

Eventually, we went to a few therapists to learn some new communication techniques and to help us with our marriage.  This feels especially wonky to be sharing publicly.  It feels like we are officially “those” people.  Are we in the trust tree?  Is there a safe nest here on the interwebs?  We basically failed couples therapy, but each started individual therapy which I think was probably the more proper order of things.  Anyways…  yeah, we go to this new counselor to do a Christian marriage course.

This is the kind of course you take BEFORE you get married or BEFORE you are way out in the woods with your spouse’s limb chomped off by a bear.  It sort of felt like we were gushing blood and I’m carrying this chewed off leg and this woman wants us to take a course in very minor first aid.  Like, having a sterilized area.  We were waaaaay passed that.  It was a little awkward.  We played her way.

We first have to separately take an online quiz about our marriage.  We both did it within the next day or two and were curious about the results at the next meeting the following week.  The counselor was concerned about our scores and actually asked us if we were mad at each other or fighting when we took the quiz.  We were not.  This was a relatively peaceful time in our valley.

The counselor had never seen anything like it before.  In several categories, like finance, time, sex, parenting, and other stuff…  we got 0% correct, with correct being the same as our partner.  As a married couple, we saw eye to eye on ZERO of these important criteria.  In her professional opinion, this alone would substantiate that we were not a compatible couple.  However, there was one glimmer of hope.

This makes me giddy and sometimes gives me goosebumps.  The only area of our lives that we had a mutual agreement on was our faith in God.  100%.  The only category that we have any sign of life in, is our awareness that we needed God.  The only area on the test that we had any common ground was our belief in God, His power to change the marriage, and our willingness to be obedient to Him.  It wasn’t 25% or 50% or even 66 and two thirds %.   It was 100%.

That was two years ago.  Maybe a bit longer.

God’s time is healing wounds.  Anger and pain and hurt and frustration all ebbing away into the past.  Forgiveness falls softly and unexpectedly at times, like the first leaves in fall.  It has taken years to resolve the chaos we created.  I believe God allowed the trial, allowed the pain, and allowed the struggle so that we may come through it still loved as individuals, but stronger in the design He had intended.  It may take years to cultivate your testimony, let ours be a light for you.

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This peace is different.

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Recently, I had this radical experience that I feel can be only expressed as an offering of the Holy Spirit on behalf of Jesus Christ.  It was obvious and reminded me of the power of my God.

Years ago, about 10 and a bit, I was working at the flower shop one early February evening.  A familiar face came in.  She was after an angel, a gift for a friend.  It was then that I mustered the courage to ask her.

Oh phooey.  Yup, I forgot some stuff.

This cute lady, Shannon, was a nurse.  She was a nurse for her husband who happened to be on call the night that our Quincy fell off some stairs and broke her collar bone.  This was well before Shannon came in for the angel.   I’m sure this all makes sense, right?  Ha.  Let me back up a bit more.

My Quincy baby was an introvert from the day she was born and even though she was badly injured, she was tired, she was unfamiliar with this place, she went to the man in the untucked plaid shirt when he reached for her.  He was the local doctor on call that evening at the small emergency room.  It was a pretty cool moment for us.  She was a fussy baby and toddler and having her be okay with anyone, much less a doctor, was amazing.    We had just moved into town over the previous summer and we were thankful that following-up with the broken bone led us to have this doctor as our primary care provider for years to come.

We would have a baby the next winter and this same doctor would deliver our Tate.  Actually, she mostly delivered herself, so serious, but he was there.  His lovely wife brought us a sweet gift in the hospital.  The nurse, Shannon, I mentioned earlier, this was her.  So, we had this tiny relationship and then somehow connected on Facebook.  A few winters would pass and her own sweet daughter got injured in a sledding accident.  There was an amazing outpouring of public spiritual support offered to Shannon on behalf of her daughter. Prayers and all this talk about Jesus.

It was because of these comments and prayers to God that when Shannon came in to get that angel that day, I felt super safe and what must have been compelled by the Spirit to ask her about Jesus.  I’m not exactly sure what my question was, but it was something about how she knew Jesus was the one.  She said it was the peace she had in her life because of Him.

peace jesus

I did not understand what this meant.

Last week I posted an extremely vulnerable blog about some circumstances I was facing as a patient with Multiple Sclerosis, a business person, a mom, a wife, and daughter.  I’ve struggled with depression and PTSD and anxiety with more depth and length than I would really like to admit.

Most recently, I was very discouraged.

I cried with emptiness.  Tears and not much more.  Holy Spirit pleading on my behalf.  I confessed to my dear friend that I was so sad that my Savior could not protect me from this life right now.  That the pain – emotional and physical – would go on for the rest of my life.  I was so discouraged that it felt like the first time His love for me would be evident or felt, rather, would be when I got to heaven.  A day or two after this confession, my husband shared a blog post that I wrote.  He shared on Facebook and petitioned for prayer on my behalf.

There was more peace in my life in those days than I have felt in months.  It is a direct reflection of the love of Christ and His response to His people.  He may not take away the pain, He may not take away the problems, He may allow suffering and death and grief.  But, no matter what you face, He will give you the peace, the strength, the love, and the fight to get through it.   I believe that there is power in prayer – in solitude and emptiness as well as in multitudes –  and that God delivers on the peace that Christ has promised to those who believe in Him.

Get ‘er done.

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My shop is really going to be for sale.  I suspect it will sell this time.  There is a big lump in my throat.  A moment of self reflection:  I used to have potential.  Twenty years ago I graduated a kid with promise for a future.  A lot of people invested in me with scholarships and time.  And as it turns out, I wasn’t that promising.

My roommate and near life-long friend, Gretchen, can testify to that!  I moved out of my house within a week following high school graduation.  I moved in with my sister to Moscow, Idaho.  I would be attending the university of the same great state in the fall.  I was a pre-medical major.  Fancy.  I really did have the potential for this.

I spent most of the summer running, making myself puke, and playing on the internet.  That fall I started at college only to end early  – a disappointing seven months later.  I could not function.  I could not articulate what was happening at the time, but see it now as a post-traumatic reaction.  I wasn’t able to sleep, maintain a schedule, was extremely harsh on my body with alcohol.  In addition, I was also sick.  I didn’t realize when I started getting “real” sick a few years later, that it really started here.

Pink-eye got in the dorms and immediately I get it in both eyes, severely.  I can still remember Gretchen grabbing me warm washcloths so I could open my eyes in the morning.  I got a walking pneumonia that required a week out of classes.  When I left, I went home with a mononucleosis that wouldn’t quit – swelling in my liver and lymph nodes lasted well into the next summer.

The only thing I was amazing at in college:  writing.  My first essay read aloud by my professor.  It was about a handsome red headed boy named, Todd.  I killed that paper and many more.

All these years later and my grammar still leaves something to be desired.  But, in what appears to be a mess of a life, I have one thing that I can still do to the beat of my own typing…  I can write.

At this present moment I feel trapped and suffocated and that is why I am writing.  Knowing that my flower shop will be for sale, very soon, and my chance at the “real world” is dwindling away, I am sad.  I have tears of grief and regret.  I don’t think I ever really had a chance to try it 100%.

I started it with two kids under the age of 3, a part-time I job I kept for several years after I bought the shop, a husband who worked in Boise and spent many extra late nights and weekends there to pursue his own interests, a mom filled with cancer, and living with what would later be diagnosed as MS.  I didn’t do that bad, but I normally don’t give myself credit for it.  The flower shop was always viewed as the subordinate job by both my husband and I, a mere hobby that paid for itself.   I got the chance to pursue it more full-time once Toby  and I agreed to let the kids back in public school, but at that point I was paying for mistakes of years past and trying to figure out how to get back to investing with what I knew now, and I was behind a lot.  After getting the MS diagnosis, around this time, we tried to venture into a joint building and business combination, but it still didn’t work.

As the kids are aging, it is easier to be at work, but it is getting much more difficult to be spontaneous with my time.  And, I am saving all my energy for work.  I don’t feel good, all the time.  I am a prisoner of pain.  Being so trapped and filled to the brim with tension just as you are, makes it hard to be flexible.  Both physically and emotionally and mentally.  You’re just trying to cope with making flowers, much less trying to mentally power through how to keep bills paid, employees busy, kids occupied, everyone happy, etc..  It is a lot of work just to be.

And, so it is as I let go of what was and look forward to what is to come, I am afraid and pessimistic and sad and filled with regret.

That was my big try at life and I am not satisfied.

I am fearful that as I go back to having no income, no source of money, I will continue to waste away in my worthlessness.  God chose finances to illustrate value.  Phooey, right?  Unless you’re rich.  Ha.  As a married couple, we’ve always had separate finances and I don’t ask for anything well, much less money.  That will be hard.  I don’t think there is money in my husband’s budget and I am concerned.

While my husband and I dated, started our lives together, and even as we lived here in this town for the last thirteen years, Toby has always had this thing and his hobbies and his friends and his life.  Before we moved here, I would just go where he was playing.  Whatever it was Toby did, I watched, played, or followed.  I had no self.  I am concerned that losing the shop also takes away anything that makes me tangibly special to this world and I lose all the ways I found to play and get by in life.

If this blog finds you today, wherever you are, please pray for me.  Most recently, my husband posted a blog page I wrote on Facebook and an astounding number of people responded with prayer.  I don’t know if anyone read what I had to write or they just prayed, but I could feel something change within me and there was no other explanation except Jesus.  The only thing it could possibly be is the peace that surpasses understanding.  I would ask for your continued prayers.