Friday, October 28, 2011


This morning I feel shaken.  So I did a search for "shaken bible verse" and this is what I got.  It's pretty cool to read all the different translations.  (if you're a word nerd, anyway)  It came up with Isaiah 54:10, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord who has compassion on you. (NIV)   What I love is that I had just been praying, "God I can't feel your peace."  I love that God so quickly reminded me that my ability to feel his peace has nothing to do with the reality of his peace being present.  Our pastor, Mike, likes to remind us that "feelings lie".  My feelings tell me right now that I'm not in God's presence because I don't feel him.  But He's there.  He never leaves.  Wesley's notes on this verse tell me, "the mountains shall sooner depart from their places than any kindness depart from thee."  Yeah, I know it's outdated language but what an awesome reminder.  When I look out my window in the morning I expect Mount Miguel to be right where it was yesterday and the day before and the day before.  But so often I feel shaken and think "where's God?"  Mount Miguel is more likely to be gone when I look out my window.  Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says, "We are neither to despond under afflictions, nor to despair of relief.  Mountains have been shaken and removed, but the promises of God never were broken by any event."  The events going on in my health right now are big.  But they're not big enough to break God's promises.  These reminders are enough to remove the ball of anxiety from my stomach and settle me back on ground that can not be shaken.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

There's a monster in my closet

I woke myself up this morning from a dream yelling "Daddy!!"  My 20 year old daughter came running in to see what was wrong with me.  Obviously, I was fine.  But I was dreaming that I had woken up and a cupboard over my closet (from the house we lived in 6 years ago) was opening on it's own.  I must have jerked in my sleep which knocked my cpap mask slightly off which makes the machine loud.  The sound--a hissy, gurgly sound--crept it's way into my dream and I was sure there was something in the closet cupboard hissing or growling at me.  So I yelled.

Now here's the crazy confession, I've always been afraid of my closet.  Any bedroom closet.  Growing up I couldn't sleep if the closet door was open, and often even when it was closed I was sure that there was a monster in there.  I know a lot of kids have that fear. But in college when I had a little apartment by myself I was happy that the closet wasn't in the bedroom and was actually in the living room.  But I still always had to look in there before bed and then make sure the doors were closed.  I still can't sleep well if the closet door is open.  I wake up in the night and without my glasses the shapes all meld together and look frightening.  

The other part that was weird was that I yelled "Daddy!"  I always called my Mom as a kid.  I can remember the only time I ever called my Dad was after hearing my Mom tell my Dad she didn't know why I couldn't call him when I was scared in the night.  For that one night, I called out for Daddy but went right back to the comfort of Mom after that.  And I don't call my husband "daddy" unless I'm talking to my kids.

So as I laid in bed this morning wondering why I would yell and dream of monsters in my closet, I thought of my life right now.  As a kid the monsters in my closet were big scary things that I was afraid were going to hurt me or worse. I started each night trying to convince myself that I had nothing to be afraid of.  My mom even went through a period of time where she would use the logic of showing me the closet, moving all the clothes around before closing the door.  It helped for a few minutes and then the fear would creep in, what if the monsters could hide? I felt like I needed protection as the fear threatened to overwhelm me.  Mom would come and all my fears would melt away as long as she was present.

My monster is now the uncertainty of my life.  Will the neurosurgeon I'm going to see next Thursday take my case or will he determine it's too complicated?  If he refers me out of network will I have an insurance nightmare trying to get them to cover me?  Will any doctor know how to treat this CSF leak?  What if I have to deal with headaches for the rest of my life?  What if they treat it and I end up with surgery complications?  What if they don't treat it and the fuzziness I feel gets worse and turns to real memory loss and I lose other functions because of cranial hypotension?   Those all combine to form a pretty big monster.

My first thought was that I expected Rick, my personal monster-slayer/husband to come running but why on earth would I have called him "Daddy?"  But then I thought about my father God.  He is the only one who can banish the monster of fear.  He's the one who didn't give me a spirit of fear.  He's the only one who knows exactly what the future holds for me and how all of this will turn out.  I also know that he is worthy of my trust.  He doesn't promise me that he'll take care of this for me immediately.  He doesn't promise that I won't have pain, he doesn't even promise that I'll be physically healed on this earth.  But he does promise that he'll never leave me or forsake me.  And because he promises me that he'll be there I know that I can rest in his presence.  I know that his presence is enough to melt my fears, no matter how big the monsters seem.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The 4 friends

It's almost been a week since I found out that my pleural effusion is caused by a CSF leak.  To say that I've been overwhelmed with the information is probably a huge understatement.  Part of me is validated that finally I have proof that what I've been suggesting to my doctors for years is actually happening.  Part of me is relieved that the effusion isn't the result of some rare form of cancer.  But I'm not sure what this means for my life and I'm not sure how or even if they'll treat it.  I know that my dural ectasia complicates things significantly.  I have an appointment on October 27th with a neurosurgeon and until that time I'm resting and trying to process and cope.  So since I'm resting I've had lots of time to think.  

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks is the story from Mark 2  where the 4 men carry their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  One day I was overwhelmed with anxiety as we were waiting for the results to the latest round of tests. I felt weepy and I called my friend and told her I needed prayer.  I shared all of my worries with her and she prayed for me right then.  She also said that she was with a few of our other friends and could ask them to pray too.  That was when I first started thinking about the 4 friends.  I know prayer is the quickest cure to anxiety.  But sometimes my anxiety is so high that I can't seem to think clearly, let alone pray.  After I hung up I felt my heart rate slow back to normal and the anxious fluttering in my stomach subside.  I needed my friends to carry me to Jesus because at that time I wasn't able to get there on my own.  

The other reason that this has been on my mind is because I'm not really that good at letting my friends carry me.  I want to be the strong one.  I want my friends to be wowed by how faith-filled I am in the face of hard circumstances.  I want to be the comforter, not the comforted.  I want to be the one reminding someone of truths from scripture, not the one being reminded.  Truth is, I hate being needy.  But right now, I do need my circle.  I was imagining what it would have been like if I was the guy in scripture.  I can see myself saying "seriously you guys, I can get to Jesus on my own.  You don't need to carry me."  And then what?  Try to drag myself there even though I actually can't make it alone?  Or I can imagine telling them not to mess up the roof to the house because I didn't want to be that much trouble.  As I imagine these things I think of how life would have been different for those 4 friends if they hadn't been allowed to carry their friend to Jesus.  Those 4 men got to witness a miracle firsthand.  They got to be commended by the Son of God for their great faith.  They got to be a part of something huge, something eternal.  

Maybe these things come to my mind because it makes me feel better to hope that my friends are getting something out of helping me.  Maybe it's still the result of my pride that just won't allow me to accept help unless I see it doing something good for someone else.  But I know that something big happens when we carry our friends to Jesus.  Something bigger than any of us can do on our own.  I know that hearts are bonded when we walk through trials with a friend.  I know that relationships are deepened when I strip away my defenses enough to admit my needs.  

God designed us for relationship and some of us (ahem--you know who you are because I know I'm not the only one) like to think that we're ok on our own; that we do fine doing life and faith and relationships on our own terms.  For whatever reason, God won't let me stay in that place of solitude and independence.   

So if you're helping someone out, or offering to help out and your friend seems irritated, just know that it's not you.  It's just your friend having some rough edges ground off and sometimes that doesn't feel so good.   Thanks for the help.