FEELING BEAUTIFUL

Feeling beautiful

WHAT DOES SICK LOOK LIKE?

When people know you are ill they expect you to look sick.   My disease causes weakness, you can’t see that. Understandably, chemotherapy makes you loose all your hair.  Gravely ill people may be cachectic, thin and pale. But, even some terminally ill people may look totally normal.  So I guess people  are surprised when they hear someone is sick and see them look  “normal”.  I have been guilty too.  I recently saw a young woman with stage 4 cancer who is undergoing chemo.  She’s gorgeous!  So the first thing I said?

YOU LOOK GREAT!

I didn’t mean to say it, but like so many things, it just popped out.  It’s meant as a compliment, as if looking good helps lessen the seriousness of it all. Sometimes I groan when I hear it.  Myasthenia gravis alters your appearance.  It causes a “snarl” instead of a smile.  My eyelids droop, usually my right one is a lot worse and sometimes I can barely keep it open.  But most of all, I have a big, round moon face and double chin thanks to prednisone.  I just want to look like my driver’s license photo for crying out loud.  I know, that’s kind of pathetic.   So when people tell me I look good;

I LOOK TO SEE IF THEIR NOSE IS GROWING

Recently, a dear lady said it. Without pausing to let my brain engage in polite conversation, I said, “why do people say that?”  It’s not like I don’t have a mirror.  I know how I look.  She never missed a beat.   She said, “Because when I see your face, I see God at work. I see Jesus in your smile.” It made my day.

I FELT BEAUTIFUL

For the first time in a long time I felt truly beautiful, not because of what could be seen in the mirror and not because I was particularly beautiful before. But, she confirmed that beauty comes from the inside. I want people to see that Jesus lives in me. If there is anything good in me, it’s Him. Moses spent forty days on the mountain with God. When he came down his face reflected the glory of the Lord so intensely that he had to cover it with a veil. That’s what happens when you spend time with Almighty God. You soak up so much of His glory that it is reflected to others. Moses spent time with God, basking in His glory. It literally radiated off his face. Myasthenia gravis takes your smile, but, it gives you time to spend with a Holy God who chooses you to be His dwelling place.

I GUESS IT SHOWS

I hope so anyway.   Solomon’s temple was  elaborate and outrageously expensive. When he dedicated it, he said, “But will God indeed live with men on the earth?” (2 Chronicles 6:18 WEB)  And God replied in the New Testament that He would dwell in us. We are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19) . How unbelievable that He would come into our sin-stained lives and fill us with Himself and His glory until it comes shining through to the outside for all the world to see. So for the first time in a long time, I feel beautiful. And if you tell me I look good I will politely say, “Thanks!”  and I’ll mean it.                                            
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GOD, WHO NEEDS HIM?

I DO, SO DO YOU

Why do you need a god?   Because life is hard and eternity  is forever.  There are many gods and you are free to pick. Which god will you choose?

Joshua 24:15, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  NIV

Genie

GENIE

Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic genie?  Life gets hard, seriously hard.  All of us have desperate needs or wants.  Do you need healing?  Reconciled relationships?   More money or just a job?  Rub the bottle and coax the genie out.  “Your wish is my command!”   Make your request, the genie can supply.  Deal done, it’s over.  Conveniently, put the cork in the bottle and place it back on the shelf until there is another serious need.  Then he will stay in the bottle until released again.  He won’t interfere with your life in the meantime.  You determine what you need and he performs.

Santa

SANTA CLAUS

What about Santa?  He rewards good behavior.   He would never let bad things happen to good people.  Be relatively good and you can expect to get whatever indulgence is on your wish list.  I’ve never known anyone who missed out because they were bad, so I think his standards for behavior are pretty low.  But, no one wants a lump of coal, so try to be on the nice list.  If you are good you will have health, wealth and happiness, right?  Maybe, if Santa is your god.

self

SELF

You need answers and you need them now.  Advice and solutions to your problems are available in the information age.  Just use a search engine and get instant results.  You can find a you tube video to show you how to do just about anything.  You can diagnose yourself (warning – it’s usually fatal).  You can discover the truth about anything, if you loosely define truth.  Knowledge, information, programs and formulas can be your god, but, ultimately you are depending on yourself.  I have depended on myself for years.  I’m pretty reliable, tough and determined.  I can do anything I set my mind to, or at least I thought I could.  Myasthenia gravis gets worse the more you try.  Of all the weird diseases….

suffering servant

SUFFERING SERVANT

Who wants that?  A God who left the glorious realms of heaven to come and suffer rejection and death.  Then He asks us to do the same, it’s ludicrous!   Who wants to follow God who calls us to deny ourselves, die to our desires, pick up our cross and follow Him.  Anyone interested in signing up for that?  He promises us,” In this world you will have trouble.”  He calls us to suffer for His sake.  Why would anybody choose this God?  It makes no sense.

Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  NKJV

WE DON’T LIVE IN EDEN

We live in a hurting world.  No one escapes suffering, sickness and death.  It’s called life.  Innocent people endure injustice.  Good people get terminal illnesses and incurable diseases. Eventually we all have to deal with something.  When I was initially diagnosed it was necessary to examine my own beliefs. What do I know about God?  I learned this:   I don’t just know about God, I KNOW God. There is an attraction to this God.  He loves me.  He wants me to love Him back.  Incredible.  The God who created the universe knows what is best for me. I trust Him.  We have a relationship.  He promises to be with me.  I feel His presence and it is the most incredible promise. He gives peace that passes understanding. The blessing of His presence, His peace, and His joy make this journey worth it all.  Is it easy?  No.

Hebrews 13:5, “God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  NIV

LIFE ISN’T EASY

That’s why we all need a god.  Which one will you choose?

Psalm 115:5-9, “They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes but cannot see.  They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.  They have hands, but cannot feel,  feet, but cannot walk.  They cannot make a sound with their throats.  Those who make are just like them, as are all who trust in them.  Israel, trust in the LORD!  He is their help and their shield.” HCSB

It ain’t perfect

It ain't perfect

 

MY LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN PERFECT

It may have looked that way, but it never was. I know, I had an exciting career, a wonderful husband, three great kids, and many other things for which I am very grateful. That’s just what you see. There are lots of ugly imperfections you don’t see. I wish everything was perfect, but it’s not. In fact Romans 7:18 is so true, nothing good lives in me. There are plenty of people who can testify to that!

NOT SO PERFECT PARTIES

For each of my kids’ high school graduations, I wanted to throw the perfect party and I wanted it outdoors. That’s always risky. When my last child graduated it seemed to finally all come together. Previously, my oldest daughter’s party was assembled in the front yard. Striving for perfection, the yard and flowerbeds were newly manicured. Tables were set up displaying her numerous accomplishments. One table had a gymnastics theme and one had books with academic medals celebrating her academic achievements. There was also a table with cheerleading memorabilia.

IT RAINED…

My son is a chemistry whiz and majors in chemical engineering. His graduation party had a Pinterest-worthy chemistry theme. We even had a platter of square cookies iced to look like the periodic table of elements. Tables were set out on the lush grass and adorned with flower filled beakers and flasks. The weather was cooperative.

HARDLY ANYONE CAME…

The state soccer tournament was that weekend. His grandparents had a birthday party to attend. While I really appreciate all who were able to attend, there are over one hundred elements in the periodic table. We ate helium and beryllium iced cookies for a long time.

MY LAST SHOT

Finally, the weather was beautiful. The tables were set around the pool with gingham pastels. Picture it:   a breakfast buffet complete with a bisquit bar was elegantly displayed. We had plenty of guests who seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. Everything LOOKED perfect. There is just something I need you to know.

MY AUSSIE THREW UP

Everywhere. She has a sensitive stomach, and she gobbles her food like she hasn’t eaten in days. Nothing like cleaning up dog vomit before a lovely party to remind you that life is not perfect. When you look at others lives you only see what is on display, not what is in the trashcan. You smell the air freshener, not the stench of the day. We are very good at covering up the ugly stuff in our lives and pretending everything is perfect.

PROBLEM IS, IT ISN’T REAL

The charades convinced me. They defeated me. For so many years I sat in church thinking that everyone around me had it all together.  When I finally realized that no one seriously did, including myself, it freed me.  I decided it was time to be honest, to be real, to be raw.  My solution to counter the self condemnation that we all struggle with was to share encouragement through teaching.  For several years I taught a women’s class called Heartlifters. My entire motive for teaching was to prove that I didn’t have it all together. Because if you think I do, then we cannot relate.  If you look at anyone and think their life is perfect  you will think yours doesn’t measure up.  Anyone know what I am talking about?  My life has never been perfect, even before being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis.  I suspect yours isn’t either.  I would be willing to bet we’ve all had a little vomit on our parties.

Let’s just admit it and PARTY ON!

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus”  Phillipians 3:12  HCSB

MOTION SICKNESS CURE

Motion sickness cure

PLEASE DON’T PUT ME IN THE BACK SEAT

Summer vacation for my family meant traveling by car to places like Dogpatch. Anyone remember Lil’ Abner and Daisy Mae Yokum? Oh how I wanted one of those off the shoulder, hillbilly shirts. My memories of the attractions at the now-abandoned theme park are hazy, but I distinctly remember the curves of Highway 7. And the nausea…

 

CAR  SICK

I looked out the window of the car at the expansive valleys and the trees whirring by my vision were blurry. My eyelids drooped from Dramamine and we always stopped for Sprite to soothe my stomach. To some extent, I’ve outgrown it, but sea sickness still plagues me. It is even worse because you can’t pull over and stop.  While on a tropical sunset catamaran cruise, I discovered a little trick. Fix your eyes on a large, immovable object in the distance to avoid nausea. Stare at a big mountain far on the horizon, because if you look out at the motion passing by, you’ll be retching soon.

LIFE IS LIKE THAT TOO

Focus on the crazy, out of control things happening outside the window of your life and you will literally be sick: stomach churning, knots in the shoulders, headache, can’t sleep kind of sick. Choose instead to focus on that big, immovable object in the distance- our loving Father, mighty Creator, never-leaving, never-forsaking God who will never change.

Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” HCSB

OUT OF CONTROL LIFE

I cannot control my situation, I can only control my attitude. It’s not always easy. It’s a choice and it’s all about perspective. We choose to focus on the positive or the negative side of our circumstances.

I focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do.

These words from a wise friend challenge me. He has ALS  (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  If he can say that, so can I.  So can you.

FOCUS IS THE CURE

You probably don’t want to be around me when I miss my quiet time in the morning,. I might not want to be around myself. I need to get focused as soon as my feet hit the floor. Actually I have to drink coffee as soon as my feet hit the floor. Don’t judge me – caffeine improves the ability to focus. God has revealed Himself in so many real ways to me since I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, usually first thing in the morning.

Lamentations 3:21-23, “This I recall to my mind, and therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”  KJV

HIS MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY MORNING

The alarm jolts us from our sleep, we roll out of bed and rush through the day, then wonder why we don’t hear God speak. We question where He is in our troubled lives. We wait until are desperate and shoot up a little prayer. We fall into bed exhausted at night breathing a prayer as we drift off to sleep.

Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You’ In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. ” NKJV

A CHOICE

It’s a hard choice many days, but worth the effort. Though the passing scenery is mesmorizing, resist the temptation to look around and get distracted.

Hebrews 12:2, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-he could put up with anything along the way:  Cross, shame, whatever.” MSG

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UNWRAPPING THE GIFT

Unwrapping the gift

I TURNED FIFTY THIS YEAR

Every year on my birthday, I receive a letter from my pastor with a commitment to pray for me. This is a long-standing tradition at my church. On the standard birthday form letter this year there was a hand-written note that read, “I know your life has been turned upside down.” I immediately realized that my life had been turned right side up. It would not seem that way to you. I am living a paradox.
Before June 2014, everything in my world seemed right and good. My career as an obstetrician/gynecologist was at its peak. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for over thirty years. My children are grown, getting along well and succeeding in their chosen paths. I have a great sister and parents and lots of friends. I was in the best physical shape of my life, literally able to pedal my road bicycle to the top of a mountain. Life was good. I was strong, happy, healthy and independent.

THE GIFT OF TIME

Rather suddenly, my life was turned right side up by a rare, life-altering disease that took away my strength, my career, my independence, my appearance and literally changed all of my relationships. Ironically, illness and adversity have a way of giving gifts, too. I have been given the gift of one thing I never had before: the gift of time. I have time to think, time to read and study, time to pray, time to spend with people I truly care about. I have also been given time to write.

I have wanted to write since I was in grade school. In fact, when I was young, I co-wrote a book called, Mr. Mouse and Mojay. My fifth grade collaborator and I even went to the public library (because that’s what you did back then) and mailed copies to a couple of publishers. We never heard back from them. I don’t even know where the book is now, but it was cleverly illustrated and dedicated to my grandfather. Neither do I recall the details, but I think Mojay was a possum-like creature that rescued his forest friends. Maybe Wendy remembers.

THE DESIRE OF MY HEART

Writing has long been a desire of my heart, but there was never time. We are promised that God will give us the desires of our heart, if we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). He knows I have a heart for encouraging others, speaking, teaching and writing. I have often thought I could write but I never had a story, until now. I am confident God really loves me and looks at my heart rather than my feeble efforts and shortcomings. He has chosen this path for me because He knows what is best for me. I trust Him. Others have repeatedly assured me that God has a plan for me. I know that. I know it deep down where it matters. In a strange way I cannot explain, it feels like divine love. He is providing for me. He is revealing Himself to me in new ways. He is giving me the desires of my heart. My disease takes so much away but it also gives. I’m not sure I would have chosen it, but I’m not sure I would trade it either.

WHAT GIFT HAS ADVERSITY GIVEN YOU?

I am terrible at wrapping gifts; uneven edges and crooked tape. It is as bad as my handwriting. Truly, I am embarrassed to take a gift I wrapped to a shower. But once the paper is off, the wrapping paper is trash anyway. It’s the gift inside that matters. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. You may not like the way it is wrapped, but be careful not to miss the gift inside. Let’s exercise a little sacrifice of praise, a little rejoicing in suffering. (Hebrews 13:15, James 1:2)

Psalm 20:3-5, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of God.” NIV
Leave a comment below to share the gift you have received from adversity. I’ll start…