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Grateful for Adversity

Grateful for Adversity

Grateful for Adversity

I once sprained both of my ankles. On the same weekend. The right ankle went on a Friday evening; my right leg had behaved mischievously for several weeks, refusing to play along at my attempts to walk normally, collapsing underneath me several times a day with no warning. The left ankle joined the fun mid-morning on Saturday. Trying to walk on a bum ankle attached to a misbehaving leg resulted in a fall and left side sprain.

Fast forward a few years. I woke up one day with a funny feeling on the left side of my face. I could see a bit of a “fish hook” look in the mirror, as if the left side of my mouth was being pulled upward. I wasn’t in pain, but I was certainly disconcerted.

At my doctor’s office - a busy practice which had begun to rely more and more on physician’s assistants attending patient visits, I met with Emily, a P.A. new to the practice. She took one look at my face and ran from the room, returning moments later with my primary care doctor. Both practitioners kept their distance as my doctor informed me I was possibly having a stroke, needed an MRI as soon as possible, and their office would be unable to assist me further.

It was a moment straight out of The Twilight Zone,

and not something I would soon forget.

I was 27 years old and rather than a jolt of fear, I felt as though I’d been given a heady dose of laughing gas. I called my husband in a state of perplexity, giggling nervously as I shared what had transpired in the doctor’s office. As the medical professionals I’d trusted to care for me turned me away, they warned me not to drive; operating a motor vehicle was ‘inadvisable and potentially dangerous’ given the precarious state of my condition. So I called my employer and waited in the parking lot for my husband to leave his own busy workday to pick me up, shaking my head at the thought I could be completely free from pain and a ticking medical time bomb at once.   

An initial MRI and neurological consultation led to further testing: a spinal tap; bloodwork; extensive questions about the state of my cognitive and physical function. I recalled those pesky sprained ankles - a total of three over the course of a year. And my non-working leg - dragging myself across my college campus in embarrassment with a heavy load of textbooks in my arms, hoping no one would notice my hobbling. Double vision for several months; the symptom disappeared within an hour or two of waking and I applied makeup with one eye closed to make sense of the picture I saw. I hadn’t taken a hot shower in some time; but the resultant twitching and swelling in my left eye never hurt, and the issue didn’t seem worthy of a doctor’s visit.

Within the confines of an MRI machine for the second time in several months, a message in the form of song came through the headphones I’d been given: East to West by Casting Crowns. “Jesus won’t you tell me just how far the east is from the west? One scarred hand to the other.” A song about sin and forgiveness, but for me the words were a poignant reminder:

There was nowhere I could go - even inside a clanging,

claustrophobic MRI machine - that Jesus wasn’t right there with me.  

On November 13, 2007 the answer to years of health-related riddles was pronounced by a Denver-based neurologist: Multiple Sclerosis. A chronic, progressive affliction with a foothold in my future.

A year later I met for coffee with a friend and colleague, my 6 week old daughter, our first child, asleep in a carrier at my feet. We’d been hoping for a baby for two years when I was diagnosed. Despite the neurologist’s advice to begin treatment immediately, we chose not to let MS derail our dream of having a family.

“You seem to be dealing with all of this so well,” my friend observed. “How are you doing?” My breath caught at this question no one had been bold enough to ask, and I took a moment to answer the question for myself before I replied.

“If I choose to mourn the loss of my health now, when I am still in relatively good health, where will I have to go if things get really tough? I’ve always considered myself a faithful person, and now that I know - really know - that I can’t rely on people, circumstances or even my own body…

MS is a constant reminder to turn to Jesus,

the only one on whom I can truly rely.

November 13th marked nine years since the day the bottom might have dropped out - but for faith. On that day, as on every day, I am so grateful for a God who is faithful, and whose presence never falters. I am grateful for the opportunity to choose faith again and again. Blessed with the gift of faith, I am grateful for the adversity that reminds me to turn to Jesus again and again.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace

as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Jesus Strong

The Perfect Day
This morning you woke up and had a picture in your mind of what the day would like. You envisioned yourself bouncing out of bed full of energy, walking out of your room to find each of your children dressed and ready to go, a morning commute without traffic, your boss greeting you with a smile and a promotion for all of your hard work and then ending the day with your spouse providing a dinner you didn’t even have to ask to be prepared. So...that probably didn’t happen :)

The Real Day
For most of us our days are filled with twists and turns that we didn’t plan for. We got an unexpected bill in the mail, our car has a flat, the dishwasher is leaking...this list goes on. It’s easy to throw a pity party for yourself. We can all start complaining and saying to ourselves, “why me?!?”. But we can’t let our emotions get the best of us, here are three simple things you can do to stay strong during times when you want to throw up your hands and give up.

Stay Strong During Stressful Times With These Three Things

  1. Say something positive. The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Sometimes, YOU need to hear YOU say something positive. You need to override the negative thoughts running through your mind with positive words.
  2. Do something nice for someone. When you take the focus off of yourself and put it on someone else the things causing you stress start to shrink. Call someone, tell them know you are thinking of them and wanted to say hello, give a gift to someone or post something on their Facebook page that will encourage them.
  3. Take some time to laugh. You need to lighten up and cut loose. One of the easiest ways and places to find a good laugh is YouTube. Just go to YouTube and search something like clean comedy, or funny cat videos or cute baby videos - you will have plenty to choose from.
You Have Been Created to Win
Philippians 4:13 says it loud and clear - I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. If you want to handle all that life throws at you then remind yourself, every day, that the Holy Spirit lives in you to empower and equip you to take on anything. 

Weapons of our Warfare

If you are living and breathing you are in the midst of a spiritual war whether you realize it or not. It’s easy to lose that awareness when life is going smooth and you aren’t encountering trials, trouble or testing. But, it’s in those quiet and seemingly easy seasons of life that you can’t let down your guard and become apathetic. You have to remain vigilant and actively building your relationship with Christ through prayer, Bible study and worship to stay strong when the battle becomes real and visible. It’s important for you, as a follower of Christ, to understand that you are in God’s army. The Bible tells us that we are always in a spiritual battle - a battle of good against evil. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan, our enemy, prowls around as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But, in 2 Corinthians 10:4 we are given our marching orders -  “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of stronghold.” Through prayer and God’s word you can walk in victory over your enemy. You can overcome the challenges and hurdles that are thrown your way. When you realize that you are a spiritual warrior in God’s kingdom and that His power lives and flows through you, you can run the race that is in front of you with confidence. 

Dance, Sing, Praise, Live, Love

Have you sat back and watched how a toddler lives life? Each day seems to be filled with laughter, singing, spinning, dancing and a joyful approach to life. The average child laughs 300 to 500 times a day while the average adult laughs only about 15 times a day. There’s something wrong with that picture and it’s not that kids are laughing too much :)

Sometimes, maybe most of the time, what you need more than anything is a change of perspective. When your day, week, month, year….life isn’t going as expected it may be time to step back and get a new outlook. If you aren’t laughing and enjoying life try looking to God and praising Him in spite of the tough times you may be finding yourself in.

Psalm 104:33 says, I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. As you begin to praise Him and develop an authentic relationship with Jesus you will begin to fully understand His promises and His commitment to you.

Life is a gift from God and His desire is that you enjoy it. God is a good Father and wants good things for you, His son or daughter. He wants you to experience joy, laughter and happiness. There’s nothing you cannot do or accomplish without His strength. You can walk in great purpose, passion and power because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. Don’t give up, don’t quit - love life, laugh and LIVE! 

Pray More - Worry Less

Every day we face situations and circumstances that challenge our faith and steal our peace. From a stressful family relationship to your car breaking down on the way to the office, there never seems to be a shortage of things that cause us to say, “why me?” The good news is that you don’t have to let these things overwhelm us, you can believe God’s word. The Bible gives you a great plan to help you make it through tough times. Philippians 4:6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.

  1. Don’t be anxious - turn your thoughts and mind towards the Lord and remind yourself that He is good and wants good things for His children.
  2. Pray & petition - simply talk to God, don’t worry about using “religious” sounding words, talk from your heart and let your heavenly Father know how you feel and what you need.
  3. Give thanks - don’t just ask, but tell the Lord thank you, have a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for who He is and what He has and will do for you.
Spend time reading and studying God’s word so you can be prepared when “life happens”. Memorize Philippians 4:6 and don't give in to worry, instead, pray and give thanks. This blog post was inspired by the Pray More, Worry Less t-shirt