Wednesday, November 24, 2010

reminder of His love in pain

I know so many are writing about Thanksgiving right now.... so many posts on being thankful.  Who we are thankful for, what we are thankful for, and Who we are praising for those things.

Where I am right now... I'm really struggling.

I picked this memory verse, with nothing in mind of Thanksgiving.  It just kind of "fits" with that theme, but really another word brought me there....

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this - those He has redeemed from the hand of the foe."  Psalm 107:1-2

The word I was following there was the one translated here as love.  In other places and other versions it is translated as mercy, lovingkindness, unfailing love, steadfast love.

Right now I have a great need to be reminded of His love for me.

I am struggling with pain in my fingers (I am cheating now, I probably shouldn't be using these fingers at all right now).  This could be a long recovery... and it takes a long time "hen pecking" out emails and posts when you can only use one hand when you are used to using two.

I am also facing a really hard relationship.  It's the same one I mentioned a post or so ago, about the person that I did things with that I regret and am very ashamed of.  We had barely started to work through it when we ran out of time in our counseling session.

This week we had time.  I have been reeling some since Monday night.  It was hard work folks!  I was so raw when I left Tricia's office.  I was ok, holding together, as I walked out the door, but exhausted.  I walked down the hall to the nearby bathroom, locked myself in and collapsed to the floor.  I was so tired I couldn't stand any more, much less make it down the stairs to my car.  Pretty quickly I started sobbing.  I cried for nearly 20 minutes before I was able to pull myself together enough to clean up, leave and drive home.

My appointment was that hard.

I don't know for sure how to describe it, other than gut wrenching.  I was right back in that relationship again, and the pain of it at the end, and the things that I was doing to keep him.... and I felt stuck and caught and didn't know how to get out... wrapped up in this big curtain, without any way of fighting my way out.

Oh we took so much time working through it, bit by aching bit.
When I was done with the appointment, I physically ached.

I was able to get through the rest of my night with my family and fell into bed.

Yesterday was hard though, because my emotions were surfacing unexpectedly.  My pastor interrupted me in the sanctuary in the morning, as I was sitting in there crying.  Later after everyone was gone, I spent some time in our associate pastors old office, turned prayer room.  And cried there too.

I am still not sure exactly where I am at, but really doubting and struggling with the whole idea that I am worth anything, and that I could be clean and pure in light of all that took place in that relationship.  I am fighting with it for sure.  I know the truth.  It's a matter of getting that from my head to my heart.  It is very hard for me to grasp that God loves me unfailingly, unending, steadfastly without change, EVER.

I have another appointment already set with Tricia two weeks from my last appointment, so another week and a half yet before I see her again... but today I called and asked if there was a chance to make it a 90 minute appointment, and I was able to.  So, for now, I think that has to due.

It's that time when I just have to cling to God with all I've got, and to soak in His word.  As a friend wrote to me earlier this week, I have to take care of my heart.  And when I can't hang onto Him any more, I have to let myself relax and remember that He is holding me with His righteous right hand.

He's got me, even when I have nothing left to hold onto Him with - when I am that slide down the wall, collapse on the floor exhausted.... He still lifts me up and carries me till I am strong enough to start walking again and hanging onto Him.

As one of my friends said today about her own situation, "God hang onto my butt, cause I'm going down!"  Essentially she was saying the same thing I am.

He's got to hold onto me, because without Him holding me, I will be going down for the third time.  I may feel like I'm drowning.... But God.   The best two words in the Bible in my opinion....

But God.

I have to hang onto the hope that He is holding out before me.  And I will give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures FOREVER!!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this - those He has redeemed from the hand of the foe...... and I am one of those... redeemed from the hand of the foe - redeemed of the Lord.  I will give thanks for His enduring LOVE!

Friday, November 19, 2010

abiding in peace

I talked in my last email about being at peace.

I am struggling with staying, abiding, in that peace right now.

You see, I am typing pretty much one handed right now.  I have tendinitis (so the walk-in doctor thinks) in my left hand, in two to three fingers.  Its the hand that I partially fell on when I fell and got my stitches in my chin 2 weeks ago.  I don't know if I damaged something in the fall (x-rays came back clear) or in using it since then, I have made things worse.

To immobilize my fingers, I actually have a huge splint with a wrap around it, my wrist and hand.  It looks like I broke me wrist or something.  It is really frustrating, because I really can't do anything... at all... with my left hand.  I can't even grab something between my thumb and forefinger!

Yet, in the midst of restrictions and limitations, I am reminded that things could be much worse.  It could be my right (dominant) hand, or something could have been broken.  I am grateful, and struggling to remember that I can still be in His peace, and rest there.

I have definitely been slowed down these past two weeks or more.

I mean, God has been really slowing me down, between accidents and illness, I have been unable to accomplish the things I've wanted to.  Even the simplest things like laundry or cutting back the dead flowers in my flower garden has been beyond me when I was sick, or on pain meds cause of my fall, or now that I am effectively one-handed.

Dave has helped immensely around here in picking up the slack as much as he has been able to around being sick himself, and working.

There has been so much that has been happening in my heart and mind since I last wrote.  I am going to have to devote some time later to writing out as best I can, or I might just hand write something out, take a picture of it and upload it as a big picture so you can read that!  I don't know.  I just know that there is so much on my heart right now.  I want to share it with you.

Maybe, too this has been God's way of getting me to listen to Him and be quiet before Him.  That way He has had the opportunity to cement some things in my mind and heart before I share with you.

I hope to write more soon!  Love and peace to you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

At peace

I'm more at peace now than I ever thought I could be today.  I'm still fighting some jaw pain, though it is much better than it was a couple of days ago.  I am also fighting off a cold.  I crashed cause I was having trouble sleeping earlier this week, and myl body didn't have enough rest to fight off whatever this "thing" is.

I had a counseling appointment yesterday.  I was able to share with Tricia how I finally have closure on a relationship.  How God moved in me through the past couple of weeks to get me to the point of letting go.  I also told her how He kept hitting me over the head with the need to obey Him and trust Him. 

Obedience and trust.  It's like the chicken and the egg question.  Which comes first?  Do you obey God, and do the things He asks you to, and then based on how He brings you through, that builds your trust?  Or is it rather that you trust God, from experiencing His faithfulness in the past, and therefore step out in obedience to what He says?

I have a feeling it's more a mixture of the two, rather than one or the other.

After stepping out in obedience to some things God specifically asked me to do, I know and feel deeper down that I can trust Him and that He has my best at heart.

The problem that I encountered with Tricia yesterday, which I sort of knew was there, but not as big as it was, was getting some of that truth from my mind to my emotions.  From my head knowledge, to a really deep know and believe heart knowledge.

The one relationship I was working through has been laid to rest I believe.  But there is some "residue" left over from that one, that tied directly into another former relationship.  A relationship in which I trusted the person, but was greatly hurt, and out of that hurt and desperation to "keep" the relationship, did some things I am not very proud of.  (and that's an understatement)

Over all it could be argued that I was a young Christian, and though I knew what I was doing, I didn't know any better.  That the other person involved was a Christian longer (not a more mature Christian - I won't give them that) and should have known better than to manipulate me, use me the way they did.

But I did know that those things I was doing were very wrong and they made me sick to my stomach, and still do if I think about them.

For a long time I have buried my guilt and shame and anger at myself.  I was at the point of burying the relationship enough, figuring to have put it to rest well enough with my last sessions with Tricia, that I would never have to revisit it again.

It is interesting how God used one thing (Henry's death) to bring me into counseling, and now that I am there, He has brought up things I have needed help with, or healing from.  It shows me another way He is intimately involved in my life and in my heart.  It shows me His desire to heal me and bring me to a new level in my relationship with Him and with others.

Well, as I talked with Tricia, yesterday, she brought out my care plan, and discussed my progress with me.  It showed that I have made forward progress, which is good, and which in reality I knew.  I have been in such a better place, even when I have been deeply depressed, that things have progressed much more quickly for me this time.  As Tricia said one time, this time has been just a "tune up" for me.

In the care plan, she rated my depression as having moved from moderate to mild (I agree there for the most part, though I am still going to have swings up and down).  She also rated my poor sense of self worth at a mild.  When she said that one, I just looked at her, and she glanced up from reading and questioned my look.  That's what brought up this relationship, and the things I had done.

After we talked a bit about the relationship, Tricia asked if I had a mental picture in my head.  I did.  She asked then if I wanted to do EMDR around the situation.  I said we could, but I wasn't sure even how to go about this, because I felt stupid for even still having trouble with this, with accepting Christ's forgiveness in this specific area, and for forgiving myself.

Tricia said that we could just walk through the negative cognitions (the lies) and positive cognitions that I want to replace them with (the truth) and talk through the process a bit, and if we had time, start the actual EMDR therapy.  We did all that, and did have time to start the therapy.

When we started, I could see in my mind's eye the mental picture, and she had me think about the negatives and see where it took us.  It was hard for me to settle into, because it's been so long.  I was having a hard time concentrating, especially at first.  It was like I couldn't "pin it down."  But I had such a strong sense of disgust that when she stopped the little machine, I said that I felt like I was going to be sick to my stomach.

She asked me if I wanted to go back there again.  I said, "no but yes, I will."  She turned back on the machine and again it was hard to concentrate, but near the end of that chunk of time, I was not only feeling like I was going to be sick, but emotionally I hurt, I was scared, and I was starting to be able to pin down the image in my head, rather than having it flit all over, and I was able to think about how it made me feel, and the lies it fed.  

I remember hearing Tricia say softly that I was still in her office, still safe, but to let the emotions come.  Oh, that was hard.  I couldn't, not all the way.  I might have cried a little bit, but more than anything I was feeling pure revulsion when she asked me to take a deep breath.  I could barely manage the breath.  She asked me to do it again and then turned off the machine.  I sat up and as I looked around her office, reorienting myself, I realized I was shaking - inside and out.

Tricia asked what I had experience there.  Part of it was that revulsion and loathing, but that it hurt and that I was coming up against this wall, this black wall and it scared me.  She said she wanted to keep on going, but she had another appointment following me and couldn't give me more time then.  She said too that she didn't want to leave me in an "unsafe" place or emotional state.  So, she asked me to think about the place where I feel safe.  My "safe place" right now is somewhere I run when I need to get out of my office, when I need a quiet place to spend with God, when I need comfort.  It's the sanctuary at church.  Right up near the front, by the piano usually.  Sometimes, right on the floor in front of the first row of chairs, looking up at the cross on the wall.

So, I went there, in my mind, starting to feel the peace again of that place, and it started to outweigh the other emotions that had been stirred up.  She stopped the machine again, and then had me go back there one more time, this time thinking about one of my more favorite songs at the moment.  I was able to relax into that, and when we were done, felt much better than I had at the first.  I felt more able to handle the rest of the day.

We prayed together and I left, heading to town to get the kids from school.  After spending time with them, they left for the farm, and I was able to have some alone time.  I sat and contemplated how I was doing.  I realized that truly, despite the hard stuff I had come up against that afternoon, I was doing really pretty good.  I had peace.  I still do.

I know I am going to have to face up to this relationship in two weeks.  But two years ago, if we had had to leave something hanging that long, I would have been in a panic.  God is so good in giving me the peace I need.

I have a couple of assignments from Tricia.  One is to find passages of scripture that talk about how God sees me, through Christ's blood.  I also need to see if I can find scriptures that talk about my needing to focus on Christ.  (Like in Hebrews where it talks about fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith).  She challenged me as well to watch the movie "The Passion."  I have never seen it.  She said that when she walked out of the movie, after having watched it, she just said that she knew then and there how much God loved her.

I spent time in God's Word last night, and time journaling and praying. 

I woke up this morning having had a good night's sleep, and still feeling like I am close in His arms and His peace.  It is a wonderful feeling.  One I haven't had in a long time, at least not consistently.

I'm so thankful!  Yes, there is hard stuff coming.  There are going to be more hard "letting go" opportunities.  God is bigger than all those things.  God loves me through all of them.  He isn't surprised by anything.  He still sees me through Christ's blood and sees me as whiter than snow.  That won't change. 

Oh God, help me keep my gaze fixed on You.  You are my comfort and strength and shield and protector.  Thank you for this incredible mercy of Your peace and feeling of being sheltered and protected, held and comforted right now.  May I continue to rest in you in these coming days.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Building parallels

Well, my jaw isn't broken, just got jammed and the soft tissues inflamed, so I am having to take it easy on what I eat, soft food, ibuprofen, ice or heat as needed to take away pain or sooth sore spots.  I saw the dentist today, and I will be going back in 4 weeks for a general check-up and cleaning.

The hard part is I find myself trying to keep from clenching my jaw or grinding my teeth.  Which causes the muscles to be even more sore than they need to be.

My left hand, that I landed on is still sore though.  It may stop my trying to write as much as I want tonight.  I landed on it, trying to catch myself on Friday, though my chin took the brunt of my fall.  I jammed something, somewhere, though it's not broken, but it's going to be a while for it to heal enough that small things like typing don't hurt anymore.  It's the top of my pinky and ring finger that hurt, and sometimes my middle finger too.  Depends on what I am doing.  Sometimes it surprises me because I am carrying something and my hand suddenly hurts and I almost drop what I'm carrying.  Though that is usually when I am carrying something far too heavy for that hand to handle.

It's interesting that in the middle of this, I can see how God is working and building parallels in my emotional/spiritual life.

A while ago, I took a spiritual/emotional tumble.  I got torn open pretty badly.  People have helped me get to where I need to go, between pointing me to God, praying me through it all, and making sure I have seen my counselor.  Tricia has been giving me assignments that have drawn me further into the pain.  These things, going into the painful areas has been so hard.

I really have been thrown into a tailspin.  It has hurt so much to have to write some of the things she has asked me to.  Once they have been written, I have been able to put them out of my mind for a while, until I go back to an appointment with Tricia, and have to read those writings to her.

I read one two weeks ago to her.  At the end of it, Tricia shared some things that I probably needed to do to help me cut the emotional ties I have in this particular instance.  Getting rid of some things, purging them, letting them go.  Part of that was done in the writing.  But some of that had to be done in the physical letting go of things too.

For these two weeks since, I got sick and was laid low last weekend, and then this past weekend I had my fall and was laid pretty low as well.  My weekdays were full with work, kids and home stuff.  Good stuff, but finally, over this past weekend, I started coming to terms with the idea that I wasn't obeying God.

God used Tricia and a few other key people in my life to encourage me to do the right thing.  To do the things that God wanted me to do to be able to walk in more freedom.  He was speaking very clearly to me, and I knew it was Him, through His word, through sermons, through the Breaking Free bible study, through my friends.

I just was choosing, for the past two weeks to wallow in my self hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, unwillingness to accept God's grace and forgiveness to me.  I've been fighting with letting go.  What's going to happen if I let these things go, the physical things, but more than that, the attachments, the emotional ties I have found buried deep.

As I have struggled, I have heard God telling me the same thing over and over, "Submit to Me, surrender it to Me, I can carry it.  My yoke is easy, kind, and much lighter than the one you are trying to drag around." 

One of the things that I got out of this week's sermon... again, something that God has been pounding into my head.

If you feel that you aren't hearing from God, see if there is any spot that you aren't obeying Him on.  Do that thing, and then listen again.  He doesn't withdraw Himself from you, but your lack of obedience will make it really hard for you to stay close to Him.  That makes it hard to hear from Him, because you're not doing what He's asked you to in the first place.  You've placed a barrier up between yourselves.

Ok, so it wasn't said verbatim that way, but that's what I got out of it.

After being shaken up this weekend, I spent some time praying on Saturday night, journaling before my meds took me out for the count.  I made a mental note to see if I could get together and actually talk face to face with my friend Cindy D.  We've been emailing back and forth, this past week, encouragement to one another, but not been able to really see each other and talk face to face.

Sunday, I had to play piano for church.  My hand was sore, as was my jaw, but I managed it.  I ended up having to use dish soap to take off my wedding ring, because my left hand and those two fingers started swelling after I got done doing all the playing for the worship team.

I chatted with Cindy D. a bit and asked her if she was doing anything after church.  She laughed at me and asked me if I wanted to get together, if I was asking her if she wanted to talk with me for a bit....  I told her that was what I was asking in a round about way.  We had a good laugh about it, and then decided to meet at a near by park in a bit, that way we were able to enjoy the weather and still talk.

We got together and talked for a while. Longer than I had anticipated.  During that time, I could tell that God's hands were all over that conversation.  From her perspective and life experiences, she was able to listen to me and hear my heart, and then ask guiding questions and pointed questions.  Some of these questions, under normal circumstances I would have never answered... even if Tricia had posed them.  I probably would have gotten so angry and shut down.  They were that hard.

But God had opened up my heart.  He opened up that old wound so much in the last couple of weeks, and there Cindy D was asking the pointed questions to help me clean that huge gaping wound with the Truth.  The truth of what I really believed, what I really needed, what I was really clinging to, and what I was really avoiding doing.

I needed closure.  After my three hour conversation with Cindy D. I was able to go home, talk to my hubby a bit, and do what I needed to do.  I threw out a bunch of stuff.  I feel lighter now.  I felt lighter yesterday.  Last night, I did some more cleaning out.  Getting rid of things.  It made me aware that there is more to do in different areas as well.  But, one area at a time.  There is a lot of garbage that has collected in areas I thought I had already cleaned out and closed the chapters on.  Maybe I have only done surface cleaning there, and now need to do more deep cleaning - or let God do the deep cleaning.

Getting rid of these things was like the wound finally getting fully cleaned out.  Ready for healing.  The rough edges trimmed off, the dirt scrubbed out.

Letting go of the emotional attachments, it's still taking me a bit to learn to leave them alone.  They will die out.  But it is like a dying out of a part of me.  I have to stop treating myself like crud because I believe I am crud.  I have to start seeing myself as God sees me.  I have to start saying it, out loud, whether I believe it or not fully yet.

God is stitching me up.  But that means I have to be flat on my back, letting Him do the work.  I can't fight Him, I can't move around, I can't get up, because I won't heal if I do.  If I don't let Him do His work, I won't be able to move on.

Now is the time that I need to just fall into His arms of love.  I need to feel His love, my Father's love holding me, comforting me, healing me.  I need to be wrapped in a comforter, on His lap, leaning against His chest, listening to His heart beat.   I need to listen to that heartbeat of His because it calms me down.  When I calm down, I can rest, I can heal and then I am ready to get up when it's time to go on and to the next right thing.

So, I am off to rest some more.  Let my physical body rest and heal, and let my heart and soul and spirit rest too.  It's easier sometimes to get my physical body to calm down and settle in, but a lot harder to get my mind to settle, and my heart to stop taking flight, and my soul and spirit to relax enough to really hear God's heartbeat for me.

Thank You Jesus that you helped me write this, because when I started this post, I had no idea where it was going.  Thank You for showing me the parallels You have drawn in my life to teach me.  You Jesus, are so wonderful to me.  You have blessed me with incredible friends and counselors, with a great pastor and church, with a family that loves me and cares for me and helps me.  I am blessed immeasurably, more than I could have ever asked or imagined!  Way back when I first became a believer, I could have never dreamed that I would be where I am today, or that I could have survived all the things I have.  You have saved me.  Oh my God, you have saved me!  You have bought me back, redeemed me, paid for my debts when I couldn't, and I am now yours.  You have called me by my name, and I am Yours.  Thank you!  Help me continue to cling to You and to look back, when I doubt, or when I need to remember to dance for joy, to read these old blog posts as reminders of what You have done, and what You have promised to do. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quick Update

This is one blog post that I will NOT take a picture to illustrate!

I can now no longer say that I have never had stitches in my life.  Yup.  I had a bit of an accident today.

Marina and I were going to pick up Peter from school (early release) and were running together along the sidewalk.  Just as we came up over the curb onto the sidewalk leading down to the school, my foot either caught something or slid.  Not sure which.

I was holding Marina by one hand and as I tripped (or whatever) I went down.  Hard.  I was able to throw out one hand to catch myself, but the other was still holding onto Marina.  She was off balance and so came down with me.

She got just a scratch, thankfully.  I however landed on my left hand some, but by the time I could do anything to catch myself, I was too far gone.  I landed, almost my full weight on my chin.  I had no idea how much I was hurt till I looked around (still on my stomach) and saw my glasses on the ground about 2 feet away or so.  I got up quickly and was checking with Marina to make sure she was ok. 

As I was leaning over, blood started dripping on the sidewalk.  From my chin.  I found a wad of tissues and pressed on my chin to stop the bleeding, collected Peter and got to the car.  I drove to our friend's house close by, and she made sure Marina was ok.

Then she took me into the bathroom.  As soon as I saw my chin, I almost passed out.

Long story short, great-grandma came and picked up the kids from Sandy's house.  Sandy took me to the ER.  By the end, I had over a dozen stitches in my chin, and prescriptions for pain meds.  Sandy drove me back to my car, and I drove home from her house, ate a bit, and then took my meds and have been resting ever since.

Please pray for me that I will be able to sleep tonight, and that I will be able to play the piano for worship team this weekend.  My hand still really hurts (as does my chin).

And now, I really need to lay down... cause I am feeling light headed again.