Monday, October 3, 2011

Set Your Face Like Flint!

Been too busy to post much lately!

We wear so many hats in this culture, don't we?  I have found myself longing to be in Central America, for it seems that time slows down, and I am able to catch my breath when I am there. (smile)

I am rejoicing that though my days are full, usually they are filled with good things now. Looking back, I see that the decisions I made in the past few years to get unnecessary stress out of my life were very good!  I've learned the importance of setting healthy boundaries...of listening to the Lord speak and direct me away from meaningless tasks, toxic relationships, and unprofitable situations.

Life is too short!  To the best of our ability, we can't allow ourselves to get caught up in things that bring us down.  

Some people don't know any better because the enemy has them so blinded as to why their lives are in turmoil.  

Others know better.  They have been taught about how the enemy plays, but won't take steps to stop the vicious cycles in their lives.  

Still some know better...educated in the wiles of the enemy, they work hard in trying to be proactive in subduing him and his minions, but for the life of them, they can't make the torture inside them stop! They realize that there are other reasons for their suffering.

I made purposeful decisions to stop the craziness that I could!  That meant stepping away from certain people and saying no to requests that I didn't need to add to my plate.  It wasn't easy to draw a firm line, but it had to be done.

For some of us, those are just good guidelines.  For others, it's a necessity to our health and well-being!


I have a diagnosed physical imbalance of necessary brain chemical.  I am not currently taking medication for this, though I have and am not opposed to that.  I simply don't like all the side effects I experience with drugs...any drugs, even Tylenol because it makes me drowsy!  But, even though I have this battle that wages against me physically, I am determined not to let it rule me and my household or relationships.

The truth is that God promises to give me a way out of every temptation.  Because of this disorder, I get tempted to lose it on my kids because I am irritable.  I face temptation to burst out in fury because of the messes these guys I live with leave all over the place!  I find myself wanting to be negative and vomit out every ugly thing I am thinking!  BUT, even though inside I feel like chaos many times in a day, I know that gives me no license to be cruel to others in my affliction.  It gives me no right to ruin their day or bring them down if I can help it!


You see, what I have causes me to have trouble processing things that happen like a "normal" person would.  My imbalance causes me to get beyond stressed and anxious about things that other people have no reaction to at all!  Talk about frustrating!

I have loathed myself for this more than I can explain.  I have literally wanted to end my life at times over this to free my loved ones from myself...or to just be able to get "rest."


It is absolute torture to know what you "should" do...how you "should" act or react...to know what others want you to do, but have your physical body war against your mind and will.  It truly is miserable and makes you hate yourself because you feel so messed up and unfixable!

I have come a long, long way in working through all these thoughts and feelings and physical reactions.  I do believe meds can help, but I also know that it takes a lot of understanding, education, compassion, and diligence to make sound progress in dealing with a literal brain malfunction.  I also know that the stronger your spiritual relationship is with the Holy Spirit, the more peace  you experience in the storms.


Jesus isn't my crutch; He is my wheelchair.  I can do nothing in my own strength.  My own willpower isn't enough to overcome the literal lack of chemical that my brain does not produce...no more than an individual with diabetes could make their pancreas produce insulin by willing it to do so!


We live in a fallen world.  Things aren't perfect, and though we can believe for miracles and hope with all our hearts that we will be healed through prayer, sometimes that healing doesn't come forth in the timing we would like.


I have experienced postpartum depression three times.  I have lived with this Mood Disorder which manifests in anxiety/depression for years.  In the last six months, I have evidently been dealing with panic attacks my physician now thinks.  These have been very scary as they mimic heart attacks and make one feel like the end is surely near!


Now understand that I am not afraid of what happens after my heart stops beating.  I am very secure in my faith and know that I will immediately be with my Savior, however, I am not at all wanting my life to end at 35 and my children to grow up without me!


I love my life!  I have many things to do before I kick the proverbial bucket!  I certainly don't want my parents to have to experience burying a child.  I don't want my husband to be alone in parenting or experience the pain of separation from his best friend!


Dang-it!  I am NOT ready to move on just yet!  So...not being in control of that is what unnerves me most!


Through blood work, the physician does not see any signs that this is actually my heart having problems thankfully, but rather it is my brain causing a physiological reaction in the rest of my body.  


Imagine this, something happens that gets you worked up, but even though within a few minutes you realize it's no big deal, you heart is pounding, even skipping beats...you are sweating, feel like something is sitting on your chest...you are dizzy, nauseous, and short of breath.  You try to take deep breaths to get things under control, but nothing helps.  You wonder if you are losing your mind, if this is really happening.  The longer these symptoms last, the more anxious you become that it won't stop at all, and pretty soon you just have to lay down because the exhaustion overwhelms you!


Now imagine all that happens, but NOTHING apparent has happened to jolt you...to trigger it.  There is nothing that you can point to that is scaring you or bothering you. You are just going about your day and you feel your chest start to feel weird and you know what's about to happen.  Your prayers don't stop it.


That has been my life for the last year, though the last six months have been the hardest.  And...on top of that, since I got back from Nicaragua last February, I have dealt with intense intestinal issues every couple of days.  Needless to say, my daily life has been greatly affected and disrupted.  I'm not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with graphic details, but I learned that there is a major nerve that runs through your heart and intestines and that is what has added to my misery by one triggering the other!

I kept this all to myself until about six weeks ago.  The episodes were getting worse and more frequent so I shared with Tom and a few others and people began praying for me and sharing some insight.  Of course it was very helpful to finally speak to my new doctor and find out what was happening as well as what was not!   

My brother told me about some yogurt drinks that have helped tremendously, and I am so glad to say that I have not had an episode with my chest in a couple of weeks now and everything else is balancing out!  I am still working with the doctor to rule out some other things, so please pray for wisdom and that anything I need to know will be revealed and dealt with promptly.

What I have learned through all of this is that pain...any kind...mental, emotional, physical...can be debilitating.  It can make you so irritable and depressed.  It can leave you feeling incredibly lonely and frustrated.  However, I KNOW that the more you make choices to purposefully draw closer to the Lord...to commune with Him, read His Word, keep yourself in fellowship with other believers that lift you up, and speak life to your situation...you can maintain your joy.  Even if it fluctuates or seems to leave for a few hours, you can choose to not allow the enemy to isolate you in misery if you really want to!

It takes work.  It takes dedication.  It takes action.


It's so easy to want to lay around and not move...to dwell on your circumstances and feel sorry for yourself.  But there is no life in that.  It will only lead to death in some form or another.


I know people who handle their afflictions both ways.  I know some who keep choosing to get up, get going, stay involved, speak positive things and believe for good to come.


I also know those who choose to wallow in their miserable thoughts, pull away from everyone and everything, and their words are negative and suck the life out of all they encounter.


The Bible tells us that in His presence there is fullness of joy...and that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  We can't do it!  We can't make everything better.  We can't change certain circumstances.  But we sure can determine how we let them affect us and our thought life!  We can choose to submerge ourselves in the Word of God and His presence through worship music and prayer and fellowship with other believers and still experience joy in the midst of suffering.


Some things are not choices, but some certainly are!  


I choose to keep singin'!  And I choose to cut off all that hinders me and drains the life out of me.  Life is just too short.  As my young friend Thomas said yesterday, I'm going to set my face like flint and keep pressing forward no matter what!  If I do die in the process, then so be it, but I'm going out rejoicing, not defeated!


My boys~I pray that when Satan comes to sift you, as he does us all in this life, that your faith will not fail.  I pray that no matter what trials and tribulations you must face that you will stand firm in what you have been taught.  Jesus is your strength so CHOOSE to be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might!  Don't wallow in self-pity and play the "  Oh woe is me"   game!  Bad things happen to everyone under the sun...EVERYONE! You will not be exempt, but Jesus said, WHEN you face trials of MANY kinds, take heart, for I have overcome the world!  He doesn't promise quick rescue from everything, but He does promise to never leave you nor forsake you in anything.  You, however, can choose to walk away from Him.  Don't do it!  Don't allow yourself to get away from the source of life.  And don't allow yourself to become so self-centered that you manipulate others with your emotions.  If you need something, ask for it.  If you feel lonely, call a friend and tell them you need a visit.  Whatever it is, talk...communicate as a person with maturity and love for others, don't hint around hoping someone will somehow know what you need.  Life is too short to play those games!  Choose life!  Choose to be proactive and take every single negative thought that comes to your mind and turn it immediately into a prayer of praise to God because He is good and will deliver you in His perfect timing one way or another!

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