Life thoughts and updates

As I stare at pages full of information on neoclassicism and romanticism in art along with images I would rather not have seen, frustration rises a little. If I had managed my time a little better, I would not still be doing this. I smell like sweat. And my sling is gross and my incision is bugging me, likely from being sweaty and hot. Overall, I feel kind of gross. No matter what I do, I always feel a little behind. Then, somehow, my heart smiles. Yes, I should have managed my time a little better, but I cannot change what I did earlier now. I can simply do what needs to be done. And one day, I will look back on these days and miss them. These afternoons with a notebook and pages fighting ignorance with the golden light of the sun flooding in the room and the sound of my family in the kitchen. So, I will treasure this moment and not resent it. And that sweaty smell that will probably never leave this sling is evidence of the hours spent outside in the sunshine.

My days are often spent like this, being frustrated and then realizing that these moments are too precious to be spent frustrated. I like to do things quickly and get them done, but while my pain has gotten much better over the past couple of days, my motivation and energy have not yet returned. It often leads to frustration, but not really progress. So I am working on fighting idleness, both physically and mentally, while resting and recovering too. 

Some of my favorite moments that made my heart happy from the past couple of days: Lawson being the sling cop and running to tell mama every time I take it off, Avery pretending to be my “helpful hand” sometimes and doing things in sync with my good hand so that things don’t take me so long, sitting and reading the Green Ember series while I am on rest breaks, being able to change clothes on my own for the first time since surgery, Lawson asking if they “used the same yellow screws in your broken arm that we used to build the barn” and so many more. I’m treasuring them.

To clarify for those that don’t know, I had shoulder surgery last week. I am doing incredibly well so far. Though it has been a little harder and more painful than hip surgery, it has not been as bad as I expected. I have been asked a couple of times if it worked and I will be able to use my shoulder again. As of right now, it is immobilized and will be for the next several weeks, so I can’t really tell yet. It is supposed to be fixed, but let’s be honest, this shoulder has been crazy from the beginning and never followed the rules. I am hopeful though! Also, my arm is not broken, I just have not had full use of my shoulder for years so Lawson says it is “broken” because it is not fully functional. 😉

Another huge blessing, my pain from surgery has been almost non-existent yesterday and most of today. It is just uncomfortable now, and I am pretty surprised considering that I am only just over a week post-op. The Lord has continually proven to be working in this surgery. He has worked out SO many things leading up to, during, and after surgery. So many things. 

To sum up yet another squirrelly blog post, the Lord is, once again, graciously leading me to see blessings amid frustrations. Over and over again, He is leading me back to this place of joy and rest in Him in spite of myself and my silly distractions. His grace is sufficient in all things. 

Rainy Day Thoughts

I know not everyone enjoys rainy days, but as long as there is not a lot of them in a row, I really enjoy them. They are the perfect days to read, write, think, and make muffins. Every time I am tempted to be frustrated or gloomy because of a rainy day, I am reminded that rain brings new life and growth.

Today was one of those happy and cozy rainy days where my thoughts were deep.

When I was first diagnosed with EDS a couple of years ago, I felt a flood of relief. I had answers, a name for, and a reason for all that pain. Turns out that a name does not always fix things, it simply explains them a little better.

As I adjusted more, I realized just how much hard life involved. Living with a chronic illness seemed so saddening. To be honest, facing pain every day is so sobering and exhausting. But something Kathrine Wolf said has stuck with me and challenged my gloomy thoughts. Though I don’t remember her exact words, she said something about busting the myth that joy is only found in pain-free living.

That’s when I realized that the Devil had somehow convinced me to believe that life is happier when it is pain-free.

But my joy is not found in what my body can or can’t do. My joy is not found in being pain-free or having a completely normal and exactly as planned life. My joy is found in Christ! He has conquered the grave, rescued me, redeemed me, and loved me. He has also created me fearfully and wonderfully. What more of a reason to live a happy life glorifying Him than that?!

When I hit my early teens, I read the Chronicles of Narnia series and I loved them. I spent many hours thinking about it and my love for magic and fantasy was ignited. Since then, I have read many wonderful fantasy books, all with happy endings. I began to long for a world like Narnia.

When I got a little older, I realized that life is not a fairy tale full of happy endings and magic.

Then I got even older. (I’ve heard it happens to a lot of people;)) That’s when I realized that life may be a bit more of a fairy tale than my cynical mind allowed me to believe. After all, when all the world was curse at the fall, a promise was made. For thousands of years, this promise was built upon, over and over reminding people that, though evil and darkness were strong, there would be a Rescuer that would make Light prevail. And just as promised, this Rescuer came, though not as many expected. He was good and just and loving, as He did just what he came to do. He rescued all mankind through His blood and then He rose from the grave and did what no high priest had done before- He sat down at the right hand of God because no more sacrifices were needed. He was and is enough. But before He sat down, He made another promise. He promised that He would come back for His people and finish the victory He had already secured.

Now we live in eager waiting for His return. We fight the evil in our lives and in this world with our King’s strength, knowing that we cannot lose in Him.

I don’t know if that gets anymore fairy tale-like than that. There is a happy ending and we are waiting for it. Victory is secure in Christ.

You may be wondering what finding joy even in pain and fairy tales have in common. Other than Christ, not really much, these are just my squirrelly thoughts. 😉

My joy is found in the Lord and I will live with joy even if I am in pain because victory in Christ is secure.

I don’t know about you guys, but thinking about how we are living in the model all fairy tales were and should be built on makes me smile.

Happy Tuesday yall!

Acknowledging Darkness and Choosing to See the Light

My heart longs for happiness and hope. There is a hole in my heart. I long for better days when we don’t live in a pandemic, when the people I love do not have to suffer, and where I do not have to feel pain. 

I am writing a book. It is a fantasy story filled with magic, wars, and hope. It has made me think about the contrast between light and darkness as I try to portray it in my story. No matter how dark things get, there is always light. There is always hope, even when the characters in my story cannot see that hope. 

The harder I try to acknowledge darkness while choosing to see light in my story, the more it becomes evident in my own life. I see darkness surrounding me, filling my heart, and chipping away at my joy. I cannot ignore it. We live in a fallen and broken world. I don’t want to ignore it because if I do, I ignore my need for Christ. 

At the same time, I cannot let it consume me. Darkness is not everything, there is still light in this world. There are little glimmers of hope that remind us of our Father who loves us. There are pieces of paradise that remind us to long for true paradise one day. 

Christmas is one of those times when many people really tend to look for light. We tend to be happier as we look forward to it. In my anticipation and excitement of its coming, I am reminded of the hope we have in Christ. 

I also know that Christmas isn’t a happy season for everyone though. It can bring painful memories for some. It is another solemn reminder of our broken world where hope and love collides with pain and sadness.

This life has been brutally beautiful. I have seen darkness and it hurts, but I have seen beauty within that darkness that makes me run to Christ. He is so good. He cares for His children and does not leave us without hope. 

So this Christmas, I am acknowledging darkness, but choosing to see light. I have hope that things will not always be this way. I also have joy because things are this way and the Lord is ruling and reigning in it. 

Merry early Christmas sweet friends! 

I had to include this picture of the beautiful blue skies from our field! It makes me so happy!

My Memorial

Tonight my heart is heavy as I ponder some difficult questions. So, in true me fashion, I pull out my journal. I process things by writing. That is when I remembered I just finished my last journal, so I pulled the bin of journals out of the top of my closet. This bin held a fresh journal as well as many old ones.

Tonight was spent remembering. I got distracted and I ended up looking through my old journals instead of writing, but I loved every second of it. I have filled five entire journals in the past six years. These journals are practically the story of my life and they hold everything from what we had for supper to my deepest and darkest thoughts and fears.

As I flipped through page after page, sometimes crying and sometimes laughing, I realized something: these journals are not merely the story of my life, they are a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness. Hundreds of prayers that I wrote in these pages have been answered. These long forgotten thoughts are now reminders of everything the Lord has done in my life.

I started with the first journal and I followed my journey through the years. Over and over again, God has been so faithful in my life. His goodness streamed from those pages and brings tears to my eyes. In my hardest times, I can see growth. I can see that little me growing so much. I can see God working. I remember small miracles I thought I would never forget.

The funny thing about journals is, they remind you of the things you never thought you would forget. Time slowly washes away old memories. These journals are like my memorials. They are a testimony of the Lord’s goodness. I don’t need to look far to see that His grace has always been sufficient for me. His mercies are new every morning-just as He promised.

Remembering God’s goodness reminds me of the Israelite’s memorials. There were so many, but the ones that stick out to me the most were the memorial stones. In Joshua 4, God commanded the Israelites to pick up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan so that they and their children would remember what the Lord had done.

My journals are like my memorials. They remind me over and over again of what God has done. They remind me of what I never want to forget. They remind me that God’s goodness never fails though mine does often.

Friends, God is still on the throne. He is still ruling and reigning. Nothing can happen outside of His plan. He is still Good. Don’t ever forget that.

P.S. I highly recommend journaling! 😉

Hope and Victory in Christ

There is still hope. Hang on to it.

In the midst of a pandemic, riots, deaths, and injustice, there is always hope.

In this crazy time, I couldn’t think of anything to blog about that would really be helpful. I refuse to be another person shouting their opinion on social media. Instead, I will shout out what I know is true, and what the Bible says.

There is hope. This is not how it ends. We are almost home. If we are in Christ, this is just the beginning. If we are in Christ, our eternity is secure. An eternity worshiping Him without any pain.

Because Christ has given us victory, defeat is impossible. He has already crushed Satan’s head. He has already conquered sin and death. We don’t have to be afraid because we know how this ends.

Never loose hope friends. Christ is our hope that cannot disappoint.

P.S. I think I just broke my record for shortest blog post! 😉

Summer Musings

After writing tons of blog posts for a couple of months, I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve tried a couple of times, I’ve even started a couple. But in the end, everything I come up with seems insensitive and not helpful. I don’t want to be another voice screaming to be heard in the chaos.

No one needs to be told that our nation is in turmoil, that everyone has a different opinion, or that there is a lot of evil going on right now. My heart is burdened and I don’t know what to do.

I’d like to say that I’ve enjoyed every moment of this summer, but truth be told, I haven’t. I’ve been frustrated at times with not knowing what is right and really wanting to see people. I’ve been frustrated with my body and had a meltdown because, though I’ve made progress, going backwards and loosing what I’ve worked so hard for will never cease to be devastating. I’ve been drug down by the seeming mundaneness of doing the same thing day in and day out.

But more than any of these, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this summer. We’ve had tons of puddin pops on the porch swing, played so many rounds of Mario Kart, had dozens of nerf wars, spent countless hours at the goat pen sweating and covered in goat hair, and made SO MUCH SOAP! Some days were just a reminder of the blessing of being alive and we have made some good memories.

I am reminded that, even in a pandemic, we can still be at peace. God is still on the throne. That has made my summer more enjoyable than anything.

On the days that I am frustrated with not knowing who is right, and what to do, I am reminded to be thankful for a safe place to stay. On the days when I am really discouraged with loosing progress, I am reminded to be thankful that progress was made. Sometimes, that little bit of progress was all that I needed to keep hoping. On the days when life felt mundane, I was reminded that living for Christ can NEVER be mundane.

Many thoughts swirl in my head as summer begins to come to a close and as I am about to start my last year of high school. Yall, I’m confused by my own thoughts! I’m so excited to graduate after all these years and begin working towards a career. But this is all I’ve known for eleven years, and now, it’s about to change completely! I’ve loved all these days just being home and learning from my safe place. I can’t wait to finish what I’ve spent eleven (soon to be twelve) years working on. But, I’m not sure I’m ready for the big scary world and all the responsibilities of becoming an adult. So for now, I wait and try to enjoy this last year of high school.

One of my favorite things about summer is all the time that I have that I don’t actually have.

Do you know what I mean?

Right before summer, I look forward to it and think, “Man, I’m gonna get so much done when I don’t have to do school!” Yeah, not really sure what happens to it, but when I look back, I still love it. We’ve fenced another pasture this summer, I’ve been writing some, and we have just really tried to enjoy being together.

The moral of this blog post?

I’m glad you asked because I’m not really sure either! 😉

When you figure it out, let me know!

Anyway, have a happy Monday! I used to strongly dislike (squirrel- I had originally put hate here, but, I cannot allow myself to do this, despite the fact that I will no longer get soap as long as I use it wisely because I’m sixteen now. ;)) Mondays, but then someone told me they liked to think of Mondays as new beginnings. Since then, I’ve seen them a little differently. Crazy how a different perspective changes things, right?! Also, Monday is the official cleaning day in this house. 😉

Happy new beginning and scrubbing!

The Human Race

Twenty-twenty seems to be quite the year so far, doesn’t it?!

The world seems to be trying to open back up slowly. And now we are seeing the media flooded with more devastating news. Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are just two sad examples.

My whole life, I saw a difference in our skin color, but it didn’t matter. To me, skin color is like hair color, or eye color. It may not be the same, but it doesn’t mean that any of them makes a human life less valuable.

Race is not something we read about in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t say “white male and white female He created them.” It simply says “male and female He created them.” It does not say “I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully and whitely made.” And it certainly doesn’t say, “Let Us create white people in our own image.”

You see, God created one race, the HUMAN race. We are all the same, but we are all different. That is part of what makes us special. The world would be incredibly boring if we were all one skin color, had the same abilities, and all had the same opinions. We were created for His glory, and we were created differently.

No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

P.T. Barnum

I firmly believe that all humans are created equally. I believe that human life is valuable. I believe that human life is sacred.

My black brothers and sisters, I see you. I see your color, and I see your value. I see you and I stand with you.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

A Word to Sum Up EDS

It’s almost the end of May already! That means it is almost the end of EDS awareness month. I’ve been trying to think of something to sum up EDS well, so I decided to see if I could describe EDS in one word. Here goes!

My initial thought was “terrifying.” It is absolutely terrifying. I can control nothing my body decides to do and it isn’t uncommon to have new and wonky symptoms. I know that I will live with this for the rest of my life this side of eternity, and it’s so hard. There aren’t always answers. There are so many unknowns. But it isn’t all terrifying.

My next thought was “painful.” Normally, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t face pain. Right now that pain is minimal and manageable, but it hasn’t always been. There have been many sleepless nights, many hours spent crying, many times when I wanted to give up, and many days when all I wanted to do is sleep because I couldn’t take the pain. While pain sums up a lot of EDS, it leaves out many factors, like all the incredible people who have come alongside us during the hardest times, like all the times I knew joy, comfort, hope, and peace like no other because of the hard that made me run to Christ, like all the laughter and love and just living that has taken place in these past hard years.

After going through more, like hard, frustrating, and infuriating, I finally found it:

Growing. Living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is growing. It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s frustrating, it’s painful, but it is changing me for the better. I have learned so much from EDS. I am still learning and growing as the Lord leads me. He is teaching me, slowly and painfully, how to look more like Him. I’m so far from where I want to be, I’m so far from where I need to be, but I’m growing.

Slowly, I am growing into who the Lord has created me to be- with EDS. So, while it is hard, it is growing me. I still don’t like EDS. I still hate the fear, pain, and frustration that are associated with living with it. But there have been so many things I have learned on this journey. I am growing.

Praise the Lord, I can look at the trail behind me, and I can see the growth. Thank you Lord for growth.

A Piece of My Journey with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

In this time of stillness, I have been doing a lot of processing. It is Ehlers Danlos Syndrome awareness month, and in this month and time where I am doing really well physically, I am pondering where the Lord has brought me from. I share a lot about EDS. From the beginning, I wanted to raise awareness for what this rare disease is really like, but as my condition worsened and I began to see how little people and the medical field knew about it, it lit a fire under me to share even more so. That is why I share these facts, all these things that I share so that maybe one more person can be helped. I want to share so that those with EDS know that they are not alone and they are not crazy. I want to share so that maybe one less person has to go through what I went through. I want to be real, but in that realness, I don’t want you to feel bad for me. I am not asking for pity. Yes, this is hard and it sucks, but I have learned more than I could ever put into words from it, and I know that I was knitted together fearfully and wonderfully by God with EDS.

A year ago, my shoulder was in its socket for the first time in six weeks and five days. Severe muscle spasms like nothing we had ever seen in my pec ripped my shoulder out of socket and held it in that position for all that time. At that point, I was no stranger to pain. My shoulder had been lax and came out of socket easily, but the spasms gave me no break. There was no relief, no break, no nothing. I had struggled with the spasms a bit before. They would pull my shoulder out, and then it would relax and drop back into socket and then pull and so on for thirty minutes or so and I would be in TONS of pain for that thirty minutes, but it always went away. Then one day, it didn’t.

I hope yall never have to experience a dislocation, but if you do, you know that pain. It is completely sickening. You know those football players that dislocate something and start rolling across the ground and screaming? That is what a dislocation feels like. Nothing else is going on, nothing matters except getting some relief. Your mind is constantly searching for a way out and you can focus on nothing. My body was doing this to itself and I had no control. My pec muscle was shaking from exhaustion, but wouldn’t let go. That is still the most terrifying feeling I know to this day.

We immediately went to a doctor asking for help. I remember sitting in that waiting room with Mama and my awesome physical therapist rocking back and forth because I couldn’t hold still for the pain. I remember thinking, hoping, and begging the Lord to have this doctor do something or know something. I remember sitting there in the room with the doctor, feeling like he wasn’t taking this seriously. I don’t think I said anything the whole time. It was all I could do to fight the pain and not be the one rolling in the floor and screaming in pain. He prescribed something and then said, “I’ll see you back in four weeks if this doesn’t work.” I remember screaming inside, “If it doesn’t work, I don’t think I can live like this for four weeks!” It didn’t work and we went back sooner because I couldn’t take it. He then suggested a motivational speaker or a psychologist and referred me to someone else.

The next doctor looked at me and said, “I have never seen anything like this.” and scratched his head. He said he wanted to help and referred me to someone else to get their approval on a treatment option. After going to the doctor he referred me to, who told me I was purposely making my pec muscle dislocate my shoulder, we called his office back. He dropped my case.

All that time I was rarely still; I couldn’t be. I cried a lot. My only relief was sleep, but it still hurt in my sleep and it was so so hard to go to sleep, but eventually, my exhaustion would usually win. I would dream that someone was stabbing my shoulder or shooting it or anything that might hurt, and it actually hurt and I often cried in my dreams.

My parents would stay up at night researching doctors or anyone who might help just so that they could tell me that they had someone to call in the morning so I would have some hope.

It was so terrifying. I was afraid of having to live like that for the rest of my life. I could barely function. I couldn’t sleep, do school, or anything I loved because my mind was so overwhelmed with processing extreme amounts of pain.

After that first appointment, I learned something: I couldn’t hope in things of this world. That sounds like such a good lesson, and it is, but it felt so ugly, so broken, and so desperate at that time. And it was until I learned to fully hope in Christ. I was still so desperate and I could often barely cope with the pain, but I knew for the first time the joy of truly hoping in Christ. Even today, I can’t say that as deeply and truly as I could then. That was something I only knew to full extent when I had no other hope.

If you saw me during that time, you probably know, I still smiled most of the time. That smile wasn’t there because I wasn’t hurting, it was there because I knew Hope, it was there because I had been so disappointed with the things of this world that I had learned of the Hope that cannot disappoint. That smile was there because I knew that Christ would not disappoint me and that He would fulfill all of His promises.

That was the beginning. It has been a hard year since then. I’ve been through a lot. That hard has been my reality often.

I have not walked into a doctor’s appointment since then hoping in that doctor, but hoping in Christ, the Hope that does not disappoint. I cannot be disappointed like I was that day. I prepare myself for the worst from that doctor and know that it will be ok because we are almost home, and this is not how it ends. The words of For King and Country from the song “Need You More” come to mind here and were often exactly how I felt and prayed.

Prepare for the worst

Hope for the best

Won’t You steady my heart

For whatever comes next?

I am not always disappointed in doctors either. I have met a couple that have changed my life, even if they couldn’t help, but because they did everything in their power to.

I still cry often, sometimes tears of pain, often tears of joy. Now my shoulder is in socket, I can walk well, and my pain is minimal. I have no doubt more hard will come. Hard comes with life and especially with EDS, but I have my family beside me, some incredible friends and church family, and the Hope that does not disappoint. He has a sovereign purpose for every ounce of pain we suffer. Knowing that does not always make the pain better, but it makes it worth it.

This my life with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and it is a beautiful, hard, and worth-it blessing.

Finding Weakness, and in It, Strength

Tonight, the words of Paul Tripp come to mind.

Suffering exposes the illusion of strength.

I find these words to be so true. Before EDS really started presenting, I wasn’t really strong, but I was sturdy. And you’d better believe I was stubborn, so I could pretty much do anything I set my mind to in a physical sense. Then my body started falling apart, and I felt so strange. I was really physically weak. At certain points in time, it took all I could do to walk through our house. I had to learn to live without the use of my right arm pretty much completely for almost two months. At that time, I couldn’t do what I needed to do, much less what I wanted to do. And it hurt. It was terrifying.

Even more terrifying than that was that my life was completely out of my control. Sure, it had always been, but it took a lot of suffering for me to realize the gravity of my dependence. I realized that my life is completely out of my control, anything can happen to turn my world upside down at any second.

Right now, the same realization holds true for much of the world. We are realizing the illusion we had that we were in control in a way like never before. We had no idea this was coming.

But God did.

He was in control before the pandemic.

He is in control in the midst of this pandemic.

Now, we must learn to lean on Him in a way that we never have before. We must realize how truly weak and dependent we are.

When I first began to grasp how weak I am and how utterly dependent I am, it felt terrible. I felt disgusting. Why? Because I like to be fiercely independent. I like to think that I can control where I go to some degree. I like to think that, if I set my mind to it, there’s nothing I can’t do. Realizing how wrong I was made me feel so small, so insignificant, and something that I despise more than both those- weak.

Then the Lord started to teach me another thing that He continues to teach me even now.

Want a hint? My blog is named after it! 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distress, with persecution, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We all know this passage. I knew it. It always sounded so wonderful and strong and even glorious when I read it in the Bible. Then, when it was me realizing how weak I was, it was something different. Weakness feels like something to be ashamed of. I certainly never want to boast about the fact that there have been days when I slept every second I possibly could just to cope with the pain, or that I needed braces to hold me together, or that, after surgery, I used a walker and couldn’t even put my pants on myself.

But Paul isn’t boasting about the fact that he couldn’t dress himself, He was boasting in the strength of His God.

There is something beautiful and glorious about realizing just how utterly weak you are when you can give yourself to the strong, sovereign Lord. It is in weakness that we realize His strength. In surrender, we find Hope.

My weakness went from disgusting and heart-breaking to something the Lord could use and make beautiful.

These times are scary. It isn’t easy to realize our dependence. But I encourage you to ponder it tonight in light of His sufficient grace. Give up control.

Let’s boast in the strength and sovereignty of God in and despite our weakness.

Evidence of His sovereign handiwork everywhere!

P.S. I also highly recommend Suffering by Paul Tripp. It is where I got that quote. It is a really incredible book!