My Teeth!

I have some strange physical ailments. My family and I laugh about it and wonder why?? Inevitably, when the next one pops up, I get a response something along the lines of “Oh, that makes sense, because it’s you.” And, I agree. It’s very strange stuff.

For one, I was diagnosed with degenerative discs in college. No injury, no rhyme or reason, just debilitating back pain that led to MRI after MRI and pain to the point of assuming the fetal position many weekends and crawling to the bathroom. Not pretty. Not conducive to working, wife(ing), or mommy(ing). After many physical therapy regimens, consistent muscle relaxers, and multiple epidural pain injections, I opted for a laser discectomy to relieve an impinged nerve. Since then, my pain has subsided. I occasionally have an issue, but for the most part, it doesn’t affect me much anymore.

I have a cluster of lipomas behind my right knee. No idea why. No rhyme or reason. I get asked what they are and I wish I had some great answer, like a vicious dog bite or 3rd degree burn scar, but no. Just, fatty tumors right there. I’m just thankful they aren’t malignant and chose to form behind my knee and not on my face. But, still, odd.

I could go on and on…

The enamel on my teeth is thinning. So much so, that I’ve had dentists ask me if I’m bulimic or a competitive swimmer because of it. Nope. Once again no rhyme or reason. Currently, my dentist is putting together his case (for the third time) to request medically necessary veneers from my insurance company. Veneers are rarely covered by insurance because they are considered cosmetic. But, he says, for MY teeth, veneers would just get them back to “normal thickness”. The enamel is too thin and nothing else is helping. My teeth are so sensitive, that even air affects them. I’m known for my beautiful (Julia Roberts) smile. I value it. I share it. I’m thankful my teeth look good. But, they don’t feel good.

This morning, while my hygienist was cleaning my teeth with the aid of my usual nitrous oxide, a tear slid down my cheek. Once again, I wondered why? Why do I have this strange disorder too? And, then I was reminded, that the way someone looks on the outside may cover many imperfections. Are we willing to own them? Are we willing to let someone know so they can love us, imperfections and all? Can we look beyond looks?

You never know what someone may be too embarrassed or fearful to share about themselves. Emotionally, physically, or mentally. We all have stuff.

A pretty smile doesn’t mean perfection. Actually, it never does. But, to smile, knowing we are flawed and loved in spite of it is as close to perfect as it gets to me.

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When It Doesn’t Make Sense…

sense

One of the last things my ex-husband said as he was leaving was that he couldn’t do “the husband thing” anymore. He could do the “daddy thing”, but not the “husband thing”. I just wanted him to want to work it out. He wanted to leave. There was nothing else I could do or say, just let the chips fall. Let the dream go. Let it happen, my worst nightmare. Thus began a new chapter from rock bottom.

Being that he said he couldn’t do the “husband thing” anymore and my deep desire to DO the wife thing, you can imagine my confusion when the girls came home, THRILLED that daddy was getting married again. Of course, I’m happy the girls are happy, but they don’t understand. They don’t know. I did everything within my power to put on my happy face for them and turn away when the tears fell. I cried for two days. Not because I wanted him back, I could never trust him again…..But, because of the deep desire I have and always have had for a family unit. Not just any family unit, a healthy one. A God-loving, God-fearing, God-first family. The kind that can make it through anything. The kind I tried so hard to have.

I host a women’s Bible study on Wednesday nights. Last night, I felt the Spirit speak straight to my heart. I went in heavy and came out reassured. Our lesson was all about the times in life when there are no answers. The illness or abuse of a child, the tragic death of a teen, the loss of a pregnant mother, a tornado that demolishes a town, a deranged shooter who kills the innocent, a dreaded diagnosis, a marriage torn apart by selfishness. So many events in this life that leave people looking to God and pastors with a “why”? “Why would God allow this?” “Where is this God you speak of in the midst of all this?” Traumatic events that change a life forever without permission…..on a dime.

The verse that nailed my confusion was: Then the Lord said, “Here is a place for you to stand by me on this large rock. I will put you in a large crack in that rock. Then I will cover you with my hand, and my Glory will pass by. Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back. But you will not see my face.” Exodus 33:21-23 (ERV)

In these events when we can not understand, He places us in the crack right beside Him. Our vision is impeded, because it’s in these times, that His hand is covering us the tightest. What we see as darkness is His covering, His Glory. Him. He is still in control when we are not, He still hears when we can not, He is still sovereign and we never were. Our understanding may be hindered, but His is not…ever.

He doesn’t just see our situation…He sees them all. Every heart, every tear, every injustice, every single one and they hurt His heart too. There are times when we can’t give or see any justifiable reason for an event. We can only trust God, in His sovereignty, to see and to know. To trust His heart when we cannot see His plan is faith. And, I want more of it…..

Get Real!

get real

I’m inspired by a recent conversation with a friend about how we so desperately want to just get real. We crave getting real with each other and with God. There is such a stigma about admitting what we struggle with….

I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church. This was a blessing. But, I was missing a major ingredient to the Christian journey until my early 30s. I went through the motions and was taught to obey a certain set of rules that my brain was told to understand, but my heart was clueless as to why??

I’m thankful for the foundation that was set for me as a child and I don’t blame anyone for my misunderstanding. But, I am eternally grateful that God answered my cries for more as an adult. I had religion and wasn’t overly sold. Something was missing and my heart was aching for more. Turns out, I was missing the relationship part. Relationship is where it gets personal and real. Relationship changes everything.

I visited other churches in hopes that I could find what I was missing. I was willing to change churches just to find it. Thankfully, through a Twelve Steps for Spiritual Healing class offered at our church, I found exactly what I was looking for. Women who struggled like me. A small group of women willing to get real about their issues. We had issues with the church, issues at home, issues at work, issues with ourselves, issues with God. Issues that needed somewhere to go. It was through this group of women, that God started His healing and I opened up to a whole new experience with Him. I believe He led me to this group. I also believe this is why I have a strong passion for women’s ministry now.

As an adult with daughters of my own to raise, I still don’t understand some of the rules we were raised with. There are some I don’t follow anymore. I understand the importance of obedience. I understand the value in seeking the truth. I understand the gift of the Sabbath. But, I had never fully grasped the grace and unfailing love that Jesus has for me. It’s still hard to comprehend. I can only attempt to dish it out as quickly as He pours it in. There is POWER in the Holy Spirit. There is WISDOM in His word. And, there is unfailing LOVE in His sacrifice.

Going to church strictly out of routine can turn into as much of a crutch as not going at all. I didn’t go for years. It felt like more rules to me….I was missing the love factor. The acceptance factor. The grace factor. The “why” factor. Feeling God’s presence in my life and getting to know Him personally has changed everything. Now, I crave going to church because I get to surround myself with people who struggle (like me) and are seeking (like me) and long to worship (like me). That is such a blessing!

Last week I was sitting in my youngest daughter’s Sabbath School class and they were reciting their weekly memory verse. It was John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”. In high school, my head would have translated that verse as “oh no, another verse about following more rules that I don’t understand in order to be loved”. Now, I see how His commands are there BECAUSE He loves me and wants what’s best for me. I want my daughter to desire to obey Him because she is certain of His love for her, not because it’s the only way He will love her. Huge difference!

Thank you, Jesus, for wanting us to get real with You! What a relief and joy it is….

But Why?

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The ultimate question when things go wrong…….but why? I have my fair share of the same question. There are so many whys in this world. Why did she get sick? Why didn’t I get that job? Why didn’t he love me? Why didn’t God save my marriage? Why didn’t that relationship work? Why did a tornado hit that neighborhood? Why did it hit mine? Why does that person have a problem with me? Why did that child have to die? Why???

These questions will boggle our minds and test our faith. They can make us turn TO God for comfort and refuge or AWAY from Him in anger and disgust. Consider the story of Job in the Bible. God allowed him to be tested above and beyond what most of us have ever had to experience. Job was a Godly man with a blessed and happy life. He was a better person than most of us and the Lord allowed him to be tested more than most of us. First, his livestock died therefore his income was gone, then his children died (all of them), then his body was covered in painful sores, then his wife and his friends turned on him in disgrace, and he was left to wonder WHY Lord?? His story will leave us scratching our heads as well. What on earth did he do to deserve this? Why on earth would God allow that? How much can one person take? It’s just not fair!

I love God’s response to Job’s questions: “Job, have you ever walked on the ocean floor? How large is the earth? Who carves out a path for thunderstorms? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper? When lions are hungry, do you help them hunt? Can you count the clouds or pour out their water on the soil?” These questions are all from Job 38 (CEV). Wow! I mean, touché.

These answers may come off as insensitive when we are grieving and craving only comfort and need relief. The truth lies in the fact that an explanation won’t comfort us, only the presence and love of  God will. Some of the questions we want so badly to know the answers to may actually cause us more pain. Do you REALLY want to know why he or she doesn’t love you? Do you REALLY want to know all the details? I mean….ouch. The pain is already bad enough. Take the pain and turn it over to a God who loves you unconditionally. Ask Him to carry it because it is just too heavy and hurts too much. When our hearts are broken, He wants in so badly.

I believe one of the ways God loves us in a crisis situation is by sheltering us from some of these answers. Instead of demanding answers, maybe we should ask different questions.  Questions like: How do I forgive him for that? How can I show her love when she treats me that way? How do I stand up to him the way You want me to? How do I respond to that? What do I do with this broken heart? How do I deal with this anger? What do I do with this pain? How do I move forward from this? I believe His response to these questions is always positive. First, He’s thankful we are turning TO Him no matter the reason. Second, He wants us to be honest with Him and get real. Tell Him how much it hurts and tell Him why. This is how a relationship is formed. Yes, He already knows, but He wants us to come to Him about it. He wants to have dialogue, even if it’s messy and angry. Any communication is better than none.

Questions and pain are something we all have in common. How we deal with them is what sets us apart. We need to make peace with the fact that only God may know why and that’s for the best right now. And, we need to RUN to His arms when we are hurt. Don’t run the other direction. Let Him hold you and comfort you when the pain runs deep.

When our children get hurt, they naturally crawl, limp, run, or cry out to us for help. We should be just as inclined to cry out to Him when we are hurt. Sometimes the pain is our fault, sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s inflicted by someone else, and sometimes we’ll never get our answer this side of Heaven. What matters most is that we turn TO our Heavenly Father when it hurts. This will not only heal our hearts sooner but it will also prevent us from hurting others in the process.