Advent 2019

Arrival of Advent

Advent.  It means coming or arrival.  But when we look closer at its root Latin word adventus we find it means something more. 

Adventus was used by ancient Romans to describe the glorious entry of an Emperor into his city after a triumphant victory in battle. Glorious entry! I find this fascinating!

We as Christians are between two Advents.  The first arrival of Christ when He came as our Savior in the tiny form of a babe swaddled in a manger. And His second and final arrival. His coming to be with us forever.

Isaiah heralded His first coming seven hundred years before His birth, saying He would be called Immanuel…God with us.

With His first arrival He came offering us hope that our salvation only depended on our faith and relationship with Him.  We no longer had to feel the need to strive or earn our salvation.

With His first arrival He offered us a peace that transcends any peace the world has ever known before He came.

With His first arrival the world now has good news of great joy for ALL people.  A joy that sustains and remains in us, helping us feel full and complete.

With His first arrival He loved us so extravagantly.  Leaving His throne in Heaven to walk among us, as one of us.  He loved on everyone and called us His children and friends. 

John heralds His second coming and Christ’s final victory over Satan and the triumphant glorious entry of God in His city when He will be with us always.

And now, we wait.  We wait, basking in the hope, peace, joy, and love He left for us until He comes again.  We wait for His second coming.  His second arrival.  His “adventus”, as the ancient Romans would have called it.  His glorious entry as the victorious King of Kings into His city! His new Jerusalem!

This Advent season may we remember Immanuel…God is with us.  Let us remember all that He gave us with His first arrival and all that we have to look forward to with His second arrival.  His adventus.  His glorious entry!

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and name him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:21-23 – “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Revelation 21:2-3 –And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. “

Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus! 

* Think About It:

Grab a journal, a notebook, your phone, whatever and wherever you prefer to record things and start journaling this Advent season.  Think on the word “adventus” and how the ancient Romans used this word to describe an emperor’s glorious entry.  In your journal, write what it means to you to between the two Advents of Jesus first and second coming.

Blessings to you this Christmas and Advent season!

NOTE:  All upcoming Advent posts will be posted to Life Exquisite’s blog on Monday’s.  We will be talking about each Sunday’s candle lighting of hope, peace, joy, and love, and what each of those words represent with Jesus first and second arrival.

In addition to the Advent blog posts, are two other things Life Exquisite is doing this Christmas and Advent season. The first is that myself and others will be studying from the “Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope” study from She Reads Truth. You do not have to have the book to join us, just the desire to learn more about Advent and Jesus coming. Just go to Life Exquisite’s Facebook page, find the Advent group post invite, and like or comment as to if you wish to join.

The Second is that we’re sharing a family tradition with you that started with our first born’s first Christmas. A verse every day starting December 1, and counting down to Christmas Day, that shares story of Jesus birth. You can follow these daily verses on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

*All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

An Introverts Journal, Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introvert’s Journal – Part 4

“God has used this messy health situation to help me focus on areas I have neglected.

Mainly ME.  I know that sounds selfish, but it’s true.  I learned that in order to be healthy; physically, spiritually, and mentally, I needed to be a little selfish and work on me.”

You may recognize the above quote from Excerpts From and Introvert’s Journal – Part 1”.  I’ve talked about how my health affected my relationship with God, my relationship with my kids, and husband, but I haven’t mentioned how my health affected my relationship with myself.  Which, it just so happens, is also a pretty important relationship.

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 8/29/19

“…lately with everything going, it’s tempting to give up.  To run away until all is well.  I’m sick of strained relationships.  I’m sick of being sick and the seemingly endless appointments. “

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 9/15/19

“With all my health issues over the years, and especially since March, I have really come to dislike my body…and myself. 

Not being able to enjoy food, to live life to its fullest, because I feel awful and exhausted all the time, is frustrating. And as things get worse, I wonder why I am so faulty.”

. . .

Faulty.  Inadequate.  Those are lies that I’ve struggled to silence my entire life.  I’ve always felt like something fundamental is missing in my makeup.  Being sick and having to be so dependent on others, just increased the lies, and I will admit I have believed them too often these past several months.

I have two main jobs that have made up the last nineteen years of my life.  Wife and mom.  And as all those relationships were hanging on by a thread, I felt like a failure.

My daddy, use to jokingly say as he snuggled me in his arms, “Kal, do you think you’ll ever amount to anything?”  He said it in a sweet, teasing way, and honestly, I never really thought about those words since those days snuggled in his arms.  But as I grew weaker, so weak that I had to depend on my husband and kids to sometimes walk me from point A to point B and all I wanted to do was sleep, those words my daddy never meant to be anything but playful banter between himself and his adoring daughter, suddenly popped back into my memory.  And as I heard that question, “Do you think you’ll ever amount to anything?” all I could think was, “No.  No, I will never amount to anything, because for some reason I can’t do anything.”

Thankfully, this spring God started bringing into a new light something I’d been interested in since my sister showed me it a few years ago.  The Enneagram.  When my sister first talked about Enneagram and had me take the test I came back as a six.  The Loyalist.  And its description made sense to me and I never questioned if that was really my number type or not.  So, I had spent the years since then believing I was a six and studying all things Enneagram six.

Until this spring.  As I was struggling in my relationships with myself and others and wanting to grow, I realized six didn’t make sense for me.  So, I bought a LOT of Enneagram books and began to study and dig deep into myself and all the Enneagram types.  I identified with most of the numbers, and I tried hard to work on growing towards the health in every number I identified with.  And every time I was in a place of pain and struggle I paid attention to what my heart struggle was and most of the time it boiled down to the words mentioned above.  Faulty.  Inadequate.  Feeling as though something fundamental was missing from my makeup. 

It’s of no importance to this post as to what Enneagram number I am.  Though, we’ll talk more about Enneagram in 2020. 

What does matter is that God used Enneagram to remind me that I am not faulty or inadequate.  That there is no important part missing from the Kalli puzzle.  He made me complete and full.  And He loves me completely and fully. 

And for every unhealthy, down in the dumps, self-doubting day that I had, there were even more days where He encouraged me through His word.  With verses like I mentioned in Excerpts from an Introvert’s Journal – Part 2

. . .

“It’s okay to be weak.  In fact, it’s more than okay.  It’s a good thing. Because…

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9”

. . .

And many more in between.  Here are just a few of those sweet reminders from my Heavenly Father…

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 5/3/19

“I heard you whisper, “Choose life.”

…  Choosing life is hard at times.  Really, really hard…but it’s not out of reach.  Life is right here with us in our hearts…Jesus is within us and as we continue to choose life, and let life dwell in our hearts, it will grow and take over.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs 4:23””

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 6/27/19

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6”

God, thank you, that I can trust you with everything that is going on.”

. . .

Most importantly he reminded me of what Jesus says is the second most important commandment alongside loving God.  It’s to love your neighbor as yourself.  Love your neighbor as yourself. But I didn’t really love myself. And this journal entry was my big turning point…

. . .

Excerpt from “100 Days to Brave” Journal

“How do you think you can love others if you don’t love yourself?”

I really struggle with loving myself.  Even at the age of 37, I feel so unimportant, insignificant, unvalued and useless…

“Loving someone requires belief in that person.”

I have never thought of love this way but it’s true.  Loving God requires belief in God…

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…

Acts 16:31”

What if believing in myself, will save me from myself?  Saves my soul from the hurt and pain that comes from self-doubt and believing the lies of Satan?

God, help me to love myself with your love, so that I can love others well.”

. . .

Since that day, I have started to write down things I love, about myself, my life, what God has created in me and for me.  It has really helped me to silence the lies of Satan that cause me to doubt all the goodness God created along with me.

I’m not going to lie; I still struggle with doubt.  I’m human and always will.  But I believe that the more I choose life giving statements about who God created me, Kalli Schroeder, to be, then life is what will grow in my heart.  And instead of Satan’s lies choking the life out of me, it will be the lifegiving truth of Jesus that chokes out the lies of Satan.

Can I get an AMEN to that?!

This year has been hard, but God has never left my side.  Never dropped my hand.  He’s held me.  Comforted me.  Sustained me.  And he’s spoken life into all the sickness, hurt, pain, and brokenness that has come my way.

Every test that we were afraid would be bad, has come back good.  I don’t have cancer or any other life-threatening disease.  Sure I’m not as healthy as I’d like to be and I’m going to be struggling with some lifelong diseases and disorders but I’ll continue to hold on to hope that Christ will heal those, and if He chooses not to, then I’ll trust Him in that too.

I’ve learned to work with my sickness and rest.  Yes, it’s true that I take at least two naps a day, but if that’s what I need to do to function and uphold my relationships then that’s what I need to do.  Plus, I kind of love naps so I need to learn to be grateful for them, even when they are forced upon me.

And the strained relationships, well, I now understand why God gave me the words “Choose Relationship” for 2019.  I now know why He had me digging deep into and writing about relationship this year.  It’s because I would need those reminders myself, to carry me through these hard months.  And as I listen to His comforting words and allow Him to carry myself and my family through this season, I’m seeing restoration and growth between my kids and me, as well as my husband and me. 

So, even though sickness and brokenness are not God’s will…

NOTE:  I’d like to make my readers aware that this will be my final blog post for “Excerpts from an Introvert’s Journal” until after Christmas.   I’ll still be blogging weekly but, I will be focusing on the Christmas and Advent season and I invite you along as we start celebrating the life of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In addition to this, and in case you aren’t already aware, I’d like to invite you to join myself and others in the online Advent Bible study on Facebook.  We’ll be studying from the “Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope” study from She Reads Truth.  You do not have to have the book to join us, just the desire to learn more about Advent and Jesus coming.  Just go to Life Exquisite’s Facebook page, find the Advent group invite (I’ll try to keep it bumped to the top of our feed), and like AND comment on the invite post that you’d like to be invited to the Advent Bible study group.

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introverts Journal – Part 3

If the last two posts were hard to share with you, this one is near impossible.  This post, besides my declining health and constant exhausted and pained state, is the main reason I have not written or blogged since the beginning of May.   It kind of tears me apart.  Sharing this feels as though I’m ripping out a part of my heart and exposing it to possibly more pain.  And I’m not sure I can bear anymore at this time.   But because I believe God wants me to share my story and I’ve been working towards doing what Annie F. Downs has encouraged me to in 100 Days to Brave…I continue my journey of BRAVE.

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 7/17/19

“Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:14

Waiting.  I feel like I’m waiting EVERYWHERE!

Waiting for my health to get better.  Waiting for answers.  Waiting for miracles.  Waiting for quality time and relationship with my kids.  Waiting to know what God has for me.  Waiting for David to be home.

. . .

“Waiting for David to be home.”  You may have noticed in the last post that there was no mention of “us” or my husband when I was talking with my children.  The absence of his mentioning is because my husband travels for work.  A.  Lot.  And the beginning of this year was a very heavy travel time for him.  He was contracted down in Mexico right away in January.  He would be gone for weeks at a time, home for a week or less, then gone for weeks again.  This was our life through August.  Eight months, thirty-four weeks, 243 days.  And I only got to see him about half of that time.

Here’s a truth for you…absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.  Sometimes distance in miles creates distance in hearts and relationships.  This was the case for my husband and me.  Torn apart by miles.  Torn apart by silence. 

It wasn’t really anyone’s fault.  He was extremely busy in Mexico and I was busy being a mom of four here at home.  Most of our correspondence was via text.  And sometimes the only texts that traveled the miles across continents and our hearts were a “Good morning!” and “Goodnight!  I love you!” text.  I rarely heard his voice because international calls from Mexico to Wisconsin don’t always connect well.  And the few we had were with co-workers or kids in the background.  We were supposed to have date nights through Skype, but he had business dinners and I had kids to drive to and fro.  The dates nights never happened.  And when I say never, I mean pretty much never.

Until one day in August, when the distance between us had become too hard to cross, and we’d been feeling that distance tear at the seams of our marriage. But we knew we had to start trying to connect or we might not every be able to again.  By this evening in August, though, we’d grown so distant, so apart, that we had nothing to talk about.  We just sat in awkward silence, like two strangers trying to think of something to say to fill the space, instead of a loving married couple who had just celebrated nineteen years of marriage and growing in knowledge of each other those nineteen years.

A wedge of literal miles is what began to put a small crack between my husband and me.  The small crack grew with days of busy schedules and silence.  I wanted to talk more, but I didn’t want to bother him while he worked and was with his business associates.  Which was always because they shared a condo there.  So, I didn’t reach out to him.  I didn’t let him know that I needed more from him.  That I needed him.

He tried to share his Mexico moments with me through texted pictures.  But I hated seeing palm trees and sunshine when I was stuck in -60 windchills in the not so great northwest.  I hated seeing his fun beverages and authentic Mexican meals when I was so sick, I could barely eat or drink anything without being in the bathroom ten minutes later.  Not to mention, he got adult time to laugh and ignore the worries of life while I was constantly dealing with my health and separating fighting kids. 

I was growing resentful of my husband’s travel, adult time, ability to eat food, and a life that didn’t include me.  I had convinced myself that he was off having so much fun with his coworkers, in warm sunny weather, in a land that had palm trees aplenty and fresh fruit and avocados, that he didn’t even think of me.

Ugh…great I’m crying.  See I can’t do this.  I can’t.

I can.  I can do this.  Through tears I am going to continue to type out my story.  My heart, no matter how much it aches.

I’m not going to list all the ways that I felt left out and left behind.  There are too many to list.  And even though God wants me to share my story, so that others who may be in a similar spot can know they aren’t alone, and perhaps find hope in it, He doesn’t demand I share everything.  He leaves that to me.

But, I will share this…

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 8/22/19

…all I can think of is my marriage and the pain we’re going through right now. 

I’ve told a few people now, because we need wisdom and prayer.  But it is so hard to be in this place and let others know you are in this place.

. . .

Marriage can be hard.  So hard.  And it can be heartbreaking at times.  And I think that my husband and I had a lot working against us the first eight months of this year.  What with literal miles between us and separate lives those miles naturally created.  My growing resentfulness over his warm Mexican weather and adult interaction.  Our very busy lives when he came home that left us no time to be alone and reconnect.  All of this combined with me being sick and exhausted, leaving me unable to be the wife he needed me to be and that I wanted to be.

But even when it seems everything is working against your marriage; the truth is that God is working for it.  God is a restorer.  A healer.  A provider.  And God is providing a way to heal and restore your marriage. 

It’s hard to share when you’re struggling with your kids.  But sharing that your marriage is struggling is even harder.  When I decided to reach out to a few of my friends that I knew would encourage me as a wife and pray for my marriage, one of my friends said, “It’s really good that you are asking for prayer for your marriage.  Every marriage struggles, but few will ask for prayer.  We ask for prayer for sickness, we’ll go up in front of the church and have hands laid on us.  But when it comes to marriage, we feel like we need to keep it a secret.  Why is this?  We should feel just as free to march up front with our spouse and have our church leaders pray for our marriage to be healed, as we would asking for healing from an illness.”

Friends, I encourage you, if your marriage is struggling, tell somebody.  Tell the people who will speak encouragement into you and life into your marriage.  Tell someone who will pray for you and your spouse.  And then, do what we did.  Go see a counselor and work on your marriage.

I once heard Dax Shephard and Kristen Bel talk about their marriage and regular counseling that they do in order to keep their marriage healthy. And I thought it very wise.  And I’m paraphrasing and adding in some Kalli here, but basically, they said something like this…

It is with heartache for the broken and struggling marriages, but with hope and faith in the redemptive and healing power of our Heavenly Father, that I close this post with a word of advice from God’s Word and a prayer.

Heavenly Father, you created marriage. You looked at Adam and knew he needed his Eve. You created us and our spouses, and you said let no man tear them apart. So, God, I lift each and every marriage that feels like it just cannot anymore, up to you. I pray that you will put a flame of hope in the hearts of each broken husband and each hurting wife. And help them to know that, even if they feel like they have nothing in common anymore, they do have that flame of hope. May they bring their hearts with those tiny flames before you, God. And as their flames of hope meet each other in prayer, may they choose forgiveness and love. And may they grow brighter and stronger together, lighting the way to perfect unity. Amen.

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Inrovert’s Journal – Part 2

Relationship.  If you’ve been following Life Exquisite this year, you know “relationship” was the word God gave me for 2019.  Choosing the good portion of relationship.  Relationship with Him and others.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write about relationship when you see some of your most precious relationships falling apart?  That’s right, it wasn’t just my relationship with God that was growing stagnant.  I’ve written before that our relationship with God flows into our relationship with others.  And as my relationship with God grew quieter, so did my other relationships.

When you don’t feel well and you are exhausted all day, every day, peopling becomes very difficult.  Even with the people within your own home.  And at this point, we didn’t know I had anything besides an ongoing, unknown infection that kept moving around my body.

My youngest two are still pretty simple and were okay just snuggling next to mom, watching a movie while I slept.  My youngest would even tuck into bed early with me so she could get some extra snuggle time.

But my oldest two needed a mama to talk to about the daily grind that is the life of a teenage girl.  But in my present state I cannot have great conversations.  I am so exhausted by the time they are home from school and work in the evening that I can hardly comprehend even simple sentences.  I can only look blankly, while I try to absorb what others are saying.  My brain is just a fog.

So, when my teenage girls tried to talk to their mama about teenage girl issues, I was beside myself.  I so wanted to be the mama, the listening ear and caring heart they needed.  I wanted to be able to give them wise council.  But how do you do that when you can barely remember the last word they said, let alone the whole entire conversation?

My girls quit talking to me.  They knew I couldn’t handle it.  And it hurt.  It hurt my heart not to be the mama they needed me to be and that I so badly wanted to be.  As I felt the relationship with my teenage daughters slip through my grasp, I began to pray and cry, and then pray and cry again. 

. . .

Excerpt from journal, 4/28/19

“It’s hard to feel the way I feel now.  Sick.  Overwhelmed.  Needing help when your supposed to be the one that can do it all.  It’s hard to feel so weak.  Physically.  Emotionally.

But I have to carry on.  I can’t let people know how weak I feel.  I have to be strong.  No matter what.”

. . .

Specialist were telling me I needed to rest.  But rest felt like admitting weakness.  Admitting weakness felt like defeat.  So, I didn’t admit it.  I kept on.  As one infection, turned into another, and then another.  I kept on.  As my inner body started failing me; creatinine levels rising, white and red blood cells out of whack, I kept on.  It got to the point that doctors couldn’t even locate the infection in my body any longer.  We only knew that everything pointed to infection.  I was on so many medications.  Prescriptions for pain, nausea, antibiotics…and rest and sleep often.

But for some reason I felt that if we couldn’t find out where the sickness was and why this was all going on, then I didn’t have a reason to rest.  It seemed like I needed a better excuse to rest than “my doctor told me to, but I don’t know why.”

But that same day in April when I wrote to God in my journal, about how hard it is to feel weak He replied…

. . .

 “It’s okay to be weak.  In fact, it’s more than okay.  It’s a good thing. Because…

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9”

. . .

I went on to journal…

. . .

 “Christians commonly misquote and misinterpret 1 Corinthians 10:13 to say, “God will not give you more than you can handle.”  This isn’t at all what it says.  It says, “…he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”.

…I believe that life gives us more than we can handle.  If we could handle everything, then what would be the need of a savior? …

Yes, it’s really hard right now.  Yes, it’s scary.  Yes, I feel weak.  And like Paul, I’ve pleaded to God for help multiple times and He has not taken these thorns of health and strained  relationships away, but…

When I am weak, God, you are strong, and I am encompassed by Your strength.”

. . .

And I ended my journal on April 28th with these words…

. . .

“Don’t fear weakness.  His strength is made PERFECT in weakness.  And always remember He is your daddy and loves you perfectly.  And His perfect love casts out fear.

Be brave.  Get the help and rest you need.”

. . .

After this day, I had a much-needed conversation with my kids.  Up until this point they didn’t realize how sick I was, and even after telling them I was sick I didn’t alert them to whacky creatinine and blood count levels.  That isn’t something you throw out there for your teenagers to google. 

But I did tell them I was sick, very sick, and that my doctor was telling me that the best thing I could do for my health was sleep and rest.  So, mama was going to be doing less around the house and sleeping more.  This meant they’d need to help out a bit more around the house and allow me to rest and heal up.

And as I started doing that – which I wasn’t always good about because you know me, I’m a Martha and doing is my thing – I gained a few moments of partial clarity when I could engage in better conversation with them.  If I was unable to give them the attention they needed and deserve, we wrote it down and tabled it until I could better listen to them.  I learned to nap right before they came home from school so that my head wasn’t so muddled with the fog of fatigue.

Slowly, we were figuring out a new pattern during this difficult time.  Sometimes, well if I’m being honest most of the time, it was really difficult and frustrating for all of us. And there were tears.  So many tears.  Some of anger.  But some healing too.  There still is.  But through it all, back then in April and now in November, God keeps reminding me that while I don’t have it all together, He surely does!

An Introverts Journal, Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introvert’s Journal – Part 1

Since my last blog post, almost six months ago, there’s been a lot going on and I’ve been a hot mess.  Well, if I’m being honest, mostly a mess.

I’ve typed this post at least a dozen times, each of those six months I’ve been absent.  See I believe with my entire heart that God has called me to share my story.  Why do I believe this?  One reason is because sharing my story and listening to others’ stories is one of my favorite things to do.  When a friend and I sit on the opposite side of my couch, or across the table from each other, sipping a warm beverage and having a good heart conversation…while it can be so hard, it’s so wonderful too.

Another reason I believe this is because years ago, when I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5,

2 Cor 1.3_5

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was telling me that there’s a reason why I so desired people to be real with me.  See I had this ache to be able to share my stories; the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the put together and the messy, the perfect, but mostly imperfect, chapters of my life.  He was telling me to be the change I wanted to see.  So again, and again I shared my story.  And so many times, I couldn’t get people, even my closest friends, to be open, and honest, and vulnerable with me in return.  And frequently, when I bared my heart, I felt judged and alone.

Now, before we go any further, and in case we are only friends by word of blog and you do not know me on a personal level, there’s an important fact that you need to know about me.  I am an introvert.  I need alone time as much as I need air in my lungs.

How odd is it that this introvert ached for people to bear her heart to?  Yet, it is the very thing I wanted.  I needed.  To be able to share my heart without feeling judged or like I was the only one who thought what I thought or felt what I felt, was becoming as important to me as my need for alone time and air.  And I knew I couldn’t be the only one who longed for this type of vulnerable friendship.

I began to pray that God would show me who to reach out to and invite out to coffee, or over for a chat.  It was amazing who God connected me with and how much my circle of friends changed.  And as these ladies and I began to share our hearts and our stories our conversations were full of much needed “me too” moments.  And tears.  Lots of tears.

I’ve tried through this blog, to invite you all to be my friend, because that’s what I want you to be, my friends.  I’m here, sharing my story, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the put together and the messy, the perfect…but mostly imperfect chapters of my life, because you are my friends.

And also because I believe Jesus wants me to.  I believe He wants me to share moments and chapters of my story with those who may need to have much needed conversations full of “me too” moments.  And cry.  Go ahead and cry.  I’m crying right now as I compose this post.

So, in keeping with my heart’s desire to do God’s will of sharing my story, here’s some truth.  Some ugly truth.  My hot mess…mostly messy story of the past several months from the pages of this introvert’s journal.

. . .

The first truth I am going to share with you, my friends, is that I have been sick since March of this year.  Long story short, I got the flu, that turned into one infection after another, that started wreaking havoc on my body, cause me to get a few different autoimmune diseases that have also taken their toll on my body in many different ways.

It’s been an extremely long and wearisome eight months, and it’s not over yet.  I have more doctors to see, more tests to run, and hopefully more answers to be found.  I am not telling you this because I want your pity.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I have not told you or many others.

I’m telling you this because it’s part of the mess that has been part of this chapter in my story.  I’m also telling you because through it, God has used this messy health situation to help me focus on areas I have neglected. 

Mainly ME.  I know that sounds selfish, but it’s true.  I learned that in order to be healthy; physically, spiritually, and mentally, I needed to be a little selfish and work on me.

. . .

~ Excerpt from journal, 5/31/19 ~

“It’s crazy how easy it is to get caught up in anxiety…or rather the distractions to keep you feeling anxious.

With my own body being attacked, it’s been easy to lose myself in the things that need to be done now that the weather is turning warm.  The garden and orchard, not to mention all the running I do with David out of the country the past few months, have served as the perfect distractions so as not to get lost in the “what if’s” of each new test result and prolonged sickness.

But these distractions have not only kept me from worrying about “what now” and “what’s next”.  They’ve kept me distracted from the kind of relationship I so crave and love to have with my Heavenly Father.”

. . .

You may recall that I’ve mentioned how much I love to sit in the mornings after everyone is gone for the day, with a cup of coffee or tea, and talk with God.  It’s one of my favorite times of day!

But I didn’t feel well, and it seemed all I talked to God about was what was wrong with my body, why it was failing me, and could He please help give us answers and heal me.  Having the same conversation over and over, is tiring.  Not to mention I didn’t really want to think about it because some scary things were going on.  So, these conversations, grew shorter and shorter.  And eventually, I kind of quit.

I didn’t quit praying, of course, and I didn’t stop talking to God.  But the tone of our relationship changed.  I didn’t want to think about my sickness.  So, I lost myself in doing, choosing to stop giving God my undivided attention.  Instead, we talked while I worked in the garden, orchard, or yard.  We talked while I did the everyday chores of a wife and mom.  But they were half-hearted conversations.  I couldn’t go deep any longer.  I couldn’t talk about what was on my heart.  And there was so much on my heart.  And more than just my sickness.

Until one day…

. . .

~ Excerpt from journal, 5/31/19 ~

Until this morning, I didn’t even realize I had allowed this to happen until I was working in my garden and I said, “I miss sitting with you, God.”

And his soft reply of, “Then let’s sit together,” reminded me that being busy didn’t make all the worry and sadness go away.  Busyness was just a drug to dull the senses.

The only one who can completely heal, take away, and support me through this mess was waiting for some quality time with me.

. . .

It was time to stop doing and just be.  Just be with Him.  Just be still and allow myself to think, to process, to talk, and to heal.

See it wasn’t just God telling me to stop doing so much.  Doctors were also telling me to rest.  But rest felt selfish, and lazy, and weak, and like a waste of time.  But if we truly want healing – and did I ever – whether it’s for our body, spirit, or mind, requires times of rest and just being.  And in just being God began to work on me in so many different ways.

I’ll share more of my story and journal entries with you over the next couple of weeks, but for now let me leave you with this quote.  It’s a quote many are given the credit of having said so I don’t know if I should give credit to Kurt Vonnegut, Rick Warren, the Dalai Lama, or my great uncle’s friend’s cousin’s nephew.  But no matter who said it, I believe it was God inspired…