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Spiritual Rehydration

The idea of persevering wears me out. I get very scared that I’ll have to live in this body for several more years. I wonder if I can handle it. I know perseverance builds character, and character builds hope (Romans 5:3-4), but some days I just don’t feel like I have the energy to keep exercising my character muscles. I get so weary. Even as I began to write this post I felt so discouraged, but something told me to push through. I sat and looked at the screen wondering what I was going to say. Then Psalm 23 came to mind.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. — Psalm 23:1-2

It’s so easy for me to forget where my strength and peace comes from. In my flesh, I am incapable of dealing with the worries and troubles of this world. The weights that we all carry on our shoulders zap our strength and dehydrate us. Only God can refresh our soul.

Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. — Psalm 1:1-3

I have low blood pressure as a result of my injury. If I don’t stay hydrated, I can pass out sitting in my chair. It can be very dangerous. In the same way, if I don’t meditate on the right things, I experience a spiritual drought. There is no fruit in my life, my leaf withers, and I don’t prosper emotionally. It’s a bad place to be. I find myself in this drought when I am more focused on the troubles of this world and the worries about tomorrow. I find myself in this drought when I allow myself to be guided by negative emotions rather than by God’s strong arm. God is my only hope for contentment and peace. And for this reason I can persevere one more day.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. — Psalm 73:24-27

Gentle Love

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I’ve had a rough few weeks. I have been battling God on the idea of whether or not I can handle this life journey as a paralyzed person. I have said repeatedly in my blogs that I believe my accident has a greater purpose. And yet each morning when I wake up I am frustrated when I open my eyes. I wonder how I can live through another 24 hours in this dead body. I get angry and I get afraid, but I look to God’s word for comfort. He always speaks to me gently.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. — Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

Psalm 139 is a love story. It describes how intimately I am known and loved by God. He knows how I feel. He knows exactly what I can or can’t handle. He knows when I feel worthless. He knows when I am deeply discouraged. He knows when I rejoice. This Psalm teaches me I am not alone in my feelings.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. — Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Not only does God know how I feel at all times, I can never escape him. On my worst day, God does not leave my side. I cannot out run him (nor does he want me to). Over the last year and a half, when I felt like he was punishing me or he had abandoned me, he was right by my side holding my hand. He was guiding me back to the truth about his loving and unchanging character.

I often question God’s decision making and what he’s allowed to occur in my life. I often get angry because I don’t want to endure it. Sometimes it feels like his love hurts. And yet he still stands by me through all of these emotions. He knows I am resisting. He knows I am weary. He knows I am mad. But none of this changes his perfect, unshakable, all-knowing love for me.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

Jesus Among Us

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I’ve just returned from a six day stint in the hospital. Five of those days were spent in the ICU. What started out as a cold for me turned into a collapsed lung and a pulmonary embolism. Needless to say, I survived and am back on my beloved laptop wasting no time to share with you what I’ve learned.

During the entire six days at the hospital there was a steady stream of family and friends coming through my room. People prayed for me, with me, and while away from me. I was shown encouragement and love by people with the heart of Jesus. All I could think about was the passage below.

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” – Mark 2:1 – 5 (NLT)

This Scripture teaches me that Jesus saw their faith (friends of the paralyzed man) and the man’s sins were forgiven. And the friends weren’t shy about it either. In the house where Jesus was preaching, there was no standing room. But these determined young men lowered the paralyzed man right down into Jesus’ face! My guess is people had pieces of the roof falling on their heads and in their eyes when they looked up to see a man coming down on a mat. They had no choice but to back up five steps and let the man be seen by Jesus.

Have you ever prayed for other people and wondered if it makes a difference? I have. I wasn’t praying much myself during this ICU visit. My thoughts went from I’m having a hard time breathing to I’m just waiting to die! And although I was allowing the devil to needle away at my thoughts instead of praying, others were praying for me. Not only were my personal friends and family praying for me, I was on prayer lists, Facebook updates and more. I believe that even people I’ve never met were praying. And God honors their prayers. He honors our prayers. When we pray together Jesus is among us. Can you imagine that? I can now.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.

– Matthew 18:20 (KJB)

Armor of God

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Since my injury occurred a year and a half ago, I’ve developed fears which have resulted in deep-seated anxiety. I fear that as a disabled person I’m an easy target to be taken advantage of. I currently have a dispute with my last facility about overbilling. Unfortunately, I can’t walk through their doors in a power suit, armed with paperwork, and give them a piece of my mind. So instead I get worked up and frustrated to the point that I can’t think straight, all the while laying awake at night.

I also fear going to sleep at night. I’m afraid something will happen to me while I’m sleeping and I won’t know that it’s happening. It may sound outrageous to some but it feels like a real possibility to me. I’ve laid awake entire nights worrying and watching my door.

All of this anxiety boils down to two things: lack of power and lack of control. I truly have no physical power as a paralyzed person, but I do have the full armor of God which doesn’t require strong arms, legs, and hands to put on; it only requires control of a few simple things.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. – Ephesians 6:10

I first have to recognize who really has the power. This Scripture teaches me that God has mighty power. The devil wants to use these anxiety–producing thoughts to make me lose my faith in the mighty power of God.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:14 – 17

The Belt Of Truth – the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5 that I can trust God with all of my heart (and with all of my situations) and he will make my paths straight. It doesn’t say the paths will be smooth and easy, but God will lead me straight to him. The Bible also says in 1 Peter 5:7 that I can cast my anxieties on God because he cares for me.

The Breastplate of Righteousness – righteousness is what I strive for every day. I’m not perfect but it’s my goal.

The Shield of Faith – do I believe in a powerful God that is sovereign, loving, and protecting? Yes! This faith is what extinguishes the flaming arrows/negative thoughts. I sometimes recite Scriptures out loud to reinforce my shield (probably to the chagrin of my neighbors).

The Helmet of Salvation and Sword of the Spirit – which is the word of God. I stay in the word of God every day as much as possible. Even when I was able-bodied and didn’t make time the way I should have, I read at least one Scripture to hold in my heart.

God’s armor is not heavy. It actually makes the world much lighter. I’m thankful that God has a plan for all situations and his directions for steering clear of the evil one are concrete.

NOTE TO READERS: I also understand that sometimes counseling and medical advice is needed. I thank God for that as well.

God Doesn’t Make Mistakes

I have had all kinds of thoughts about being a quadriplegic. Why did this happen? Am I being punished? Is this my fault? I can’t live like this another day! A few days ago I was depressed the entire day because I missed being able to sit on the couch cross-legged while sipping on a hot cup of coffee. I hated this way of life on that particular day based on that one simple memory. And then there have been some really bad days when I told people I didn’t want to live.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 1:1

A dear friend reminded me yesterday that my life is the race set before me. And it’s not just any race, it’s a race personally assigned to me by God. My race is unique from others. There’s no need for me to compare, feel jealous, indulge in self-pity, or otherwise. This is my race. It just is. You have yours. I have mine. As I run my race, I am to be free of encumbrances and to run with endurance. I don’t have to be the swiftest but I need to make it to the finish line.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:16

It’s taken a long time for me to come to terms with the following – my injury was meant to happen. I don’t understand why God allowed it to happen, but that’s not a requirement for me. I have no idea what God has going on behind the scenes, but the Bible says it’s too unbelievable for me to fathom. Maybe my broken neck injury saved me from something worse!

What I do know now is that this paralysis is not only part of my personal race it has been planned since before I was born. Some might say, why would God allow such a thing to happen? And I have to answer that question with another Scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight… – Proverbs 3:5

No matter how frustrated, disgusted, or depressed I get about being a quadriplegic, I know I’m right where I am meant to be. I don’t have to understand why this happened. I just need to acknowledge that God is sovereign, loving, and good. And he doesn’t make mistakes.

Can You Give Me a Hand?

The worst time of the day for me is the morning. It seems like I wake up and everything starts to itch. My nose itches. My ear itches. My eye itches. And I can’t scratch anything! It’s always the little things that give me great pain and make me feel crazy. Having to ask someone for a drink of water. Having to ask someone to pull up a cover when I’m cold. Having to ask someone to wipe my nose. I find myself thinking that I just can’t do this! I just can’t do this paralyzed thing! Without working limbs, I’m incomplete!

Ephesians 3:18 – 19

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

This Scripture teaches me that when I feel crazy and unable to cope, God will empower me. And his resources to do so are unlimited! Even when I can’t see any good in any situation, I can trust God. And He loves me! He loves me so much that it’s difficult for my mind to grasp. His love is not shallow. The roots are deep, deep, deep.

And it’s clear that even though I don’t have a hand to scratch an itch, it’s God’s love alone that makes me complete, not my limbs.

Peace Please

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

I know this world cannot give me peace. Believe me, I’ve tried to get it from the world. Before I became a quadriplegic, I was always searching for something. I had run up my credit cards so I could have a closet full of clothes, new pieces of furniture, gym memberships, and more. And I was never satisfied. I searched for approval from boyfriends and bosses. I longed to have a sculpted body and spent time in the gym trying to perfect that.

When my accident occurred in August 2013, all of my worldly possessions were taken away. I now live in a skilled nursing facility which is like living in a hospital room. I have two pairs of shoes and very few clothes. I am completely dependent on the staff for everything. They take care of my hygiene. They feed me. They dress me. They exercise me.

I can do absolutely nothing by myself now except tell you what I’ve learned: Jesus is the only path to peace. And you don’t have to become paralyzed to accept this gift. It can start as early as right now.