[Nevertheless] It is for You

I've been thinking about you a lot lately through my Lenten practice lens of pruning. I love you more than I can possibly express and it hurts to see how much pain and fear you carry. I need you to know you are loved, you are worthy, and you are enough.It's my hope that you prune from yourself the guilt of your past behaviors and thought processes. That you let go of the voices form your past that tell you the lie that you're somehow damaged, lacking, inadequate. That you realize that mistakes are nothing more than learning experiences and others' anger and frustration have nothing to do with your worth. And that you banish the fears that hold you back from fully embodying the kind, considerate, loving person that you are.The love that you pour out for everyone, the kindness and compassion you exude, the consideration you have for others all inspire me to be a better person. I love you.
I wrote this for my husband, nevertheless it is for you, too.

It is for you - the one…

[Nevertheless] I Won't Whine

I think I'm getting sick. I'm coughing. I'm freezing. I don't want to move. I just want to wrap myself in my comforter and sleep for the rest of the day. I suck at being sick.

That seems like a strange statement coming from someone who lives with chronic illness. I feel like maybe being sick on top of being chronically ill is just too much for me ... similarly to how a paper cut or tiny burn put me over the top painwise when I live in severe pain all the time. 

I'm miserable, nevertheless, I won't whine ... too much. I'll try not to, anyway.

[Nevertheless] I Emerge

The first three months of the year are usually incredibly difficult for me. Seasonal Affective Disorder eats away at my mental and emotional state, leaving me yearning for the light and new life of Spring. I've had my struggles this past Winter, especially with what I've been going through personally and medically. Nevertheless, this year I didn't sink too far into the depths of depression.

I believe a lot of that was due to getting out of my house and into nature every weekend. The fresh air and quality time spent with my husband, children, and friends is invaluable. Taking in the beauty of God's creation and seeing green life among all the brown, white, and gray naturally boosts my spirits. 

It helps that in the process of enjoying hikes, I am also reaping the benefits of exercise and boosting my confidence in my body. Hiking is anything but an easy or laid back experience for me, as I need to monitor my body constantly so I don't overheat, experience tachycardia, …

[Nevertheless] We Fast

I'm supposed to be taking four teens to the movies in an hour. I'm still in my pajamas. One teen has showered (and vacuumed his room), one is in the shower, one has emerged from and then returned to her room, and one has yet to make an appearance. It seems only one of us is motivated to get their act together today.

I am motivated by popcorn. Movie theater popcorn is my nemesis, especially when I'm trying to lower my carbohydrate intake. I'd give it up for Lent, but I'm fairly sure God doesn't want me to suffer so greatly. 

We'll be taking about fasting at Tuesday Night Sunday School tonight. I don't usually fast from a particular food during Lent. I fast from other things - from judging myself and others, from worry and pessimism, from saying yes when I need to say no, from saying no when I could just as easily say yes. 

I prune thought patterns and actions that take away from who God wants me to be in an effort to emerge from Lent a better person. 

[Nevertheless] The Sun Rises

Often when people with chronic illness and chronic pain talk about the facts of their existence, it's seen as complaining. I often talk about what I'm experiencing as someone who lives with untreated chronic pain and multiple chronic illnesses. Rarely do I complain. 

Recently someone asked me to describe a typical day living in my body. I responded that there is no typical day, but rather undercurrents of illness that run through my days - some more tricky to navigate than others.

All I want to do is fall asleep. For hours I concentrate on relaxing my body, eventually drifting off only to wake to pain shortly thereafter. I wake over and over in twenty, fifteen, sometimes ten minute increments, never soundly sleeping. Eventually I feel as if it must be close to morning. My heart drops when the clock reads 1:43AM. It's been less than two hours of tortuous slumber.

I get up to heat my rice sock, empty my bladder, and refill my water bottle. Climbing back into bed, I struggle to …

[Nevertheless] We Persisted

Melting into my memory-foam covered mattress, I couldn't believe I'd scheduled a hike with friends for the next morning. What was I thinking? I'd been at Epoch Arts for nearly fourteen hours, including our first day of homeschool co-op, buying supplies for the Cafe, and helping in the Cafe during an Open Stage night. Oh, and then driving six teens home before heading home with four of my own, with a teen-requested stop at the grocery store on the way. My body was shot. I prayed I'd at least get a decent amount of sleep.

Awaking the next morning to the realization that there were mere hours until the hike, anxiety seeped into my mind. My husband brought me a small breakfast in bed, I took my morning meds, and then attempted to sit up. Pain coursed through every millimeter of my body. Today was going to be a challenge.

Shuffling to the bathroom, I considered admitting defeat and telling my husband to go without me. Nevertheless, I persisted.

Driving to the trail, I continue…

[Nevertheless] They Prepare the Way

Taking in nature around us, it seemed odd to hear highway noise so close by. This more urban hike, at times literally feet from the highway, is a new adventure for us. 

Boardwalk and highway, tall grass and landfill, bird calls and traffic roar, juxtaposed like my good days and bad days, health scares and good test results, and my ability to hike four miles one day and struggle through a mile and a half another. 

Looking around as we wend our way down the wooded path, broken branches litter our surroundings. Broken trees, some completely uprooted, are not an uncommon sight. It seems Mother Nature is doing some pruning of her own. Fluctuating temperatures produce rain turned to ice and snow, weighing down boughs to their breaking point, then soaking the ground before freezing once again as temperatures plummet. Fluctuations in my health have the same effect on how heavy life activities feel and what needs to fall away so that I can emerge from this season of my life healthier and ready f…