Sunday, April 21, 2013

Promises in the Wilderness

I made it to Nehemiah today!  I'm about 1/3 way through the Bible.  I cannot believe I have missed out on this historical perspective for the last 32 years since I became a Christian.  My goal is to ensure that my kids read the bible cover to cover early in their lives so that they will have a fuller, richer experience in all of their bible studies.  I want them to know who Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah were, what era they lived in and what their roles were. 

I've learned a lot of in-depth, beautiful, historical things and also random pieces of trivia.  For example, I want my kids to know there's actually a person named Nimrod in the bible and he wasn't a doofus or a dunce.  He was a mighty warrior! (Genesis 10:7-9)

Today I was referencing something back in Deuteronomy and ran across notes I had written in the margins throughout Chapter 8.  In this chapter, Moses is telling the Israelites to give God the credit due Him for all He has done, even in the midst of their wilderness wanderings.

Here's a link to the entire chapter:

Excerpts from Deuteronomy 8 (my highlights added)
1Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Some of my notes from this chapter:
1) We reap God's promises when we are obedient
2) Desert experiences reveal who we are
3) It's all for our good
4) It's all for a reason
5) It's all because of love

This passage reminds me that in order to please God and reap His blessings we must first behave as he commands and expects us to.  We must live close to Him and not by our own or the world's standards of "good enough".  It also reminds me that when the fire gets hot, our true character and the core of who we are comes out.  We either negatively internalize and combust or we channel our hurts and devastation to the One who can see us through.  And in the end, through everything we experience - whether good or bad - it's all for our good.  V
erse 16 assures us that there's a purpose in what we go through:  "so that in the end it might go well with you."  God doesn't humble and test us because he can.  He does it because He knows best and He wants it to end well for us.  No matter how bad things get, his covenant is to LOVE me (Deuteronomy 7:9 says, "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.")

Over the last 18 months I have certainly felt I was in a dreadful wilderness, a thirsty and waterless land.  But I have also received His manna and water too.  Even through the hard times, God gives us what we need.  There have been some senseless events take place in our country this week.  And these things are happening all over the world.  I've also heard of horrible personal tragedies striking families close to my community.  My wilderness in no way compares to the ones these people are in and will go through for a very long time and some of them for life.  I've often asked it and I'm sure the people in Boston have asked it this week. 


I refer myself and others back to the answers found in Deuteronomy 8:
1) Desert experiences reveal who we are
2) It's all for our good
3) It's all for a reason
4) It's all because of love

I can't imagine life without these promises of God.  I don't think God punishes the innocent to get our attention, but if getting our attention is a by-product of tragedy and wilderness experiences, then all is not lost.

Other Stuff
It's still been tough for my physically.  I should have started writing a book about all my crazy dreams at the beginning of this journey...  I have dreamed about more carnivals, amusement parks and high-cliff adventures than I could have thought possible.  It may make for entertaining reading one day!  I've added another medicine back in the mix since when I came off it, I got incredibly dizzy with no relief.  Jonathan and I are headed back to Mayo in Minnesota on May 20.  Talk about blessings in adversity... God planned our first trip to Mayo in October (beautiful weather; no snow) and now this visit in May (beautiful weather; no snow)!  We missed the Minnesota winter and we are soooo grateful!  I'll be meeting with my regular doctor and the first neurologist I met with back in October.  I am certainly looking forward to going over the last 6 months with them but at the same time I'm a little apprehensive.  I know that it's Satan trying to get me to believe that they won't have any answers or it will be another 6 months of trying different medicines and treatments.  I've resumed the practice of earnestly seeking God's divine healing.  Quite honestly I gave up on that several months ago and quit asking.  I've never lost faith that He CAN; I guess I quit believing that he WOULD. 

Thank you for continued prayers, love and support.  I still need them and appreciate them more than you know.  When I see people from time to time that I rarely talk to and they tell me they're praying for me every day, I almost get a little embarrassed.  I guess sometimes I don't feel I deserve so many dear and faithful people praying for me.  And I shouldn't feel that way.  I have come to realize that prayer is one of the most loving and generous gifts we can give each other.  And so I sincerely thank you for your faithfulness.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's God's Battle

I know many of you think I've been feeling great, back to normal life since I haven't written in so long.  Unfortunately, that isn't the case.  A week from tomorrow marks the 18 month mark of this journey.  I've been numb a little, not necessarily to God, but just to the whole situation.  I've beat myself up often thinking that I'm still sick because I'm too hard-headed or oblivious to get the lesson.  I finally found peace realizing that God may not have a "big plan" he's working on; that his purpose may be to just teach me to be quiet and seek him in the small, daily things. So, I've quit being so hard on myself wondering if I'm falling short of what his plan is for me.  Now I'm trying to look for the small things that come each day.

One of my journal entries this week: "I'm still just SO frustrated - I know God loves me and there's great peace knowing He's in total control.  But this is a miserable existence from a physical standpoint."

And that pretty much sums up how I feel most days.  I've still had a few good days and a few good portions of days but I am still fighting through many days.  I am trying to be thankful for small wins - I got to attend our church's Easter egg hunt and Easter service with my family this year.  But then I also get bummed pretty easily too - I missed the kids Easter party at school for the 2nd year in a row.  I know that kind of stuff probably seems so trivial to most, but it's not to me.

I'm still reading my bible cover to cover.  I figure I'll finish early- to mid-2015.  I'm in 2nd Chronicles now.  This week I ran across an enlightening and extremely uplifting chapter.  It really hit me out of nowhere since the Chronicles are a recap of Samuel and Kings and they go into a lot of detail about the military and spiritual state of Judah during that time.  2 Chronicles 20 recaps King Jehoshaphat's (a godly king in Judah) and the Israelites' plea to God to rescue them from a battle and God's response.  Please take the time to read the whole chapter, it's really encouraging:

Some key verses from this chapter (I added some emphasis):
vv. 6, 9  "Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you... ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us."
v. 12  "For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."
v. 15  "This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s."
v. 17  "stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you"
I guess in my state of numbness I forget the power of God sometimes.  I don't know if it's because I have resumed some "normal" activities or what but I don't find myself "crying out in distress" like I used to.  I don't know what to do about this ever, but I'm sure my eyes wander away from God. And I don't see it as a battle anymore but have almost accepted this fate and so I don't often remind myself it is an ongoing battle and God can give me victory.  I've settled into this "new norm" but not in a constructive way; in an "I'm tired of praying and asking for the same healing over and over and over again" way. 

Today in our life group we read Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I was convicted to the point that tears were stinging my eyes as I held them in.  It hit me in the face; the disciples' question echos the same one I've asked again and again over the last 18 months:
"Teacher, don’t you care if I drown?” (not literally of course)
Maybe I haven't waited to hear his response or maybe I've ignored it:
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to me, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
How ironic that this story takes place on a stormy, rocky boat.  As many of you know that's how I describe my physical state much of the time: "I feel like I've been deep sea fishing on a boat all day!"  I am going to search for a renewed faith over the coming days.  I am going to look for ways to hear Jesus say, "Quiet! Be still!" to my dizziness and brain fog; to clear the storm from my body that causes my boat to rock.

Other Stuff
I will be heading back to the Mayo Clinic in MN as soon as I can get an appointment.  A short version of the story is that through some medication changes and my responses my doctor again thinks there is more to the migraine story than first believed.  He is checking with my original neurologist to see if he wants to meet back with me or if he wants to refer me to a headache neurologist.  It takes months to get an appointment in Neurology so who knows when it will be.  As I understand it now, my primary Mayo doctor and a neuro doctor (my original one or a new one) will have a joint meeting/appointment when I go up there again.  I believe the medicine I will need to try to control the migraine will need to be monitored more closely and they need to do some baseline tests (probably blood work) before I begin taking it and that I'll probably be monitored more closely and regularly for a while.  I'm reading some of this between the lines from the last discussion with my doctor.  I'm very, very encouraged that I still have a doctor who is intent on finding answers.  He told me during our last call that this is extremely frustrating because there's not a silver bullet cure-all; it's lots of trial and error.  It's been 6 months since my original visit and the prognosis then was that I would have my "life back" in 3-6 months.  I still know God is the only one who can restore me but I still have hope that it may be through the doctors at Mayo.

My family is wonderful.  I am in awe every day of the blessing that my husband and children are to me.  If nothing else in this world is right, I know that I have something more precious than many, many people have and I count those blessings often.