STRENGTH

It’s been a minute since I wrote for my blog. Inexcusable, I know, since this blog has been my outlet, how I focus my thoughts and ugh…feelings. I shouldn’t neglect this therapy.

This morning I was inspired by reading a quote by a popular celebrity.

“A strong woman doesn’t just get there because she woke up one day and she was strong. Being strong is earned.” (Kris Jenner)

After some thought, I realized this is so very true! You can start out life being determined, feisty, even fearless as a young person. But not strong. For strength, you gotta go through events in your life and make it out on the other side a bit stronger each time. You keep getting knocked down, and keep getting back up. You pull your shoulders back and realize that they are stronger than before, you got up a little faster this time, and you didn’t cry as long. (Did you even cry at all this time?)

A strong woman never quits a situation required of her, but knows when to walk away from a waste of time and energy.

A strong woman never stops giving of herself when there is a true need, but does so with a guarded heart, for she protects what is hers and what is God’s.

She decides what are words of wisdom to feed her soul, and what is just sentimental fluff posted on social media with no depth, no substance. She only looks to other strong, proven people, knowing you only become that which you surround yourself.

A strong woman knows where her strength comes from. Not just from the resilience built from her past, but from what she feeds her present, and what she hopes for her future.

Yes, there is strength in hope. There is strength in vision. She knows she can attain it because she can see how far she’s come, and her belief in herself and in her God are unshakable.

I look at my 20-yr-old daughter and am proud of her goals and determination. I know some of what lies ahead of her in life – choices, challenges, and outright battles that will sometimes knock her down hard. But she will get back up and earn her strength one day at a time, year by year, decade after decade.

I’ve learned this from others, and she will learn this from me.

Here’s to battle scars. Know when you are right and be steadfast in the truth. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong. Learn from your mistakes and have the guts to ask for forgiveness. Move on, even if you walk alone for a while. And always, always, always keep your eyes ahead and know the best is yet to come!

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When Healing Came

I know I will struggle to write this blog. It is going to be difficult to put this experience into words because this subject is just so very personal in nature! But one area in my life that I’ve been working on for the last couple of years has been tearing down walls and sharing with others, so I will do my best to be transparent.

Two years ago I started having certain physical symptoms that told me something was not quite right. I ended up at a surgeon’s office to have biopsies, which showed abnormal lesions and tissue that had a moderate risk of turning into cancer, but also had a chance of going away on its own if my immune system was strong enough. My doctor gave me the cure-all option of having a major surgery that would require me to be off work for six weeks, as well as send me into early and permenent menopause. I opted to wait and recheck in six months.

My next biopsy was essentially unchanged. She again offered the surgery, but also supported the decision to wait another six months to recheck. I decided to put my faith to the test, and I again opted to hold off and wait. I can’t explain why, but it just seemed like the right decision.

The next biopsy, now a full year after the first diagnosis, showed the tissue had advanced to high risk, and the lesions were now much larger. My doctor told me at my age it would be less likely that my immune system would beat it, and that surgery was very appropriate. I was devastated and fearful and against having the surgery, and being off work that long was going to be extremely difficult financially. I told my doctor I would let her know. I asked my closest friends and the ladies at church to pray with me. I fasted. In my moments of prayer and meditation, I would have a short-lived peace about me that everything was going to be ok, but there were other times my anxiety was so elevated I would tremble. I just felt stuck! What was I supposed to do?

I phoned the surgeon and told her I wasn’t ready to have this major surgery and needed another option. She told me about a minor surgery that would remove a lot of tissue and might take away all the high risk tissue and allow more time for my immune system to defeat the rest of the lesions. I jumped on it!

After the procedure, my symptoms increased with a vengeance. It began to wear me down physically, mentally and emotionally. Another six months passed, and it was time for another biopsy. As soon as she entered the room, my surgeon looked at me and said, “You know if this one is abnormal, you really need to have everything taken out!”

Fast forward two years and six biopsies…nothing had changed. I kept putting off surgery out of fear. One day, I found myself having a really bad day dealing with the symptoms, as well as other emotionally challenging conflicts. Me and God had another talk. This time it was just Him and me…Him being the patient Father, and me, being a tired heap on my living room floor, like a crying child about to be punished. “God, I feel so alone! There’s nobody here to help me through this. How am I going to pay my bills if I’m off work for six weeks? Who will take me to the hospital, or back home after discharge? Who will help me get up and around at home? What if I die in surgery? Who will tell my daughter?”

Then the prayer got really pitiful. “Maybe my time is over. Maybe I’ve done everything I’m going to do in life, maybe I’m supposed to have cancer. Lord, give me strength to face this, because I don’t think I can do this anymore!”

Then, it was as if He gave me a little glimpse into what I looked like, saying all those things, with tears streaming down and hair stuck to my face. A quiet “shush” came over me, as I heard Kari Jobe in the background, singing on my playlist, “I Am Not Alone.” I started to tell God I was sorry for freaking out, for doubting that everything was going to be ok. I sat up and blew my nose, wiped my face, and just sat there, meditating. The very next song was, “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott. Right after that was “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle. It was a perfect musical lineup for my faith to be increased and my prayer to take a different direction! I started feeling grateful for every good thing in my life, for God’s love, and for every person who had prayed for me. In this gratefulness came such a sweet atmosphere that tears of awe were flowing all over again, as I thanked God out loud for visiting with me that morning.

Then something else incredibly cool happened! As I finally got up and started going about my day, still listening to music and talking to God, a thought was spoken to me as I walked past where I had been praying on the floor earlier. A thought is the best that I can describe it, as it was silent like a thought, but seemed to transpire out of nowhere.

“You know, if you were married, you and I wouldn’t have many mornings together like this.”

I stopped and listened. The “thought” continued, “This is the first time in your whole life that I’ve had you to Myself.”

It was true. When I had a husband and daughter at home, my days off were always filled with errands and tasks that involved taking care of my family. But these days, I have so much alone time that a lot of my days are filled with inspirational reading and music, and talking to God. At this realization, I went from feeling incredibly sorry for myself, to feeling like the most loved and fortunate woman alive! At that moment, I was so grateful for all my blessings, including my singleness.

The story isn’t over! Later the same week, my symptoms abruptly stopped and I began to feel normal again. All those times I had prayed in desperation, reaching out to God with fear and anxiety, calling on my confidants to pray for me, nothing had given me the calm and sense of wellness that I got at this time.

Monday was my last biopsy. When the surgeon entered the room, once again she said, “Well, we will give this one last shot. It’s been over two years now. If anything is abnormal, we gotta do the surgery.” I agreed.

Three days ago I got the phone call from her. “Christi, I took many samples, remember? I took twice as many as I usually do, and they were deep. I’m looking at the pathology report in front of me, and every single one of them is normal. You don’t have to worry about this anymore!” I was so elated!

I don’t know why everyone isn’t healed. I wish I knew. I don’t know why God didn’t heal me a year ago because I know that He heard each and every prayer. And I bet there are plenty of people who will read this and just shrug it off and claim that my body just overcame it on it’s own. That’s cool, but I know what I experienced that day in the quiet of my home. It was so much more than a physical touch. It was a spiritual connection created from me reaching out in fear, then a decision to trust, and allowing gratefulness to complete the connection.

The photo below hangs on the wall of my doctor’s office. It gave me a little peace every time I saw it. It’s pretty cool to know that no matter what the outcome is, if we put our faith in Him, we’re in His hands.

Thanks for reading my story!

When Healing Comes

Amazing???

I had a morning of wistfulness today. I was scrolling through social media and came across a post that said something along the lines of, “It’s SO AMAZING what I can accomplish since I found someone who believes in me!” For a short while, I got caught up in the mindset of wondering what all I could be capable of, if only I had a strong, supportive “significant other” by my side?

The feeling of melancholy did pass, but not until after I took about 20 minutes to write my feelings down. I know this is probably reminiscent of something Dr. Suess would have written, but still, it’s my blog and I’m posting it anyway, even if it makes me feel like wearing a big red and white stripped top hat…

I hear that it’s amazing
what you can do
If you have someone
who believes in you!

I hear that it’s a comfort
(And you live longer too)
If you have someone
who can truly say, “I love you!”

Being an island
has its moments
But two minds with one heart
would go far beyond romance!

Flowers and pretty words
used to light me up inside
But now I’d rather hear silence
than hear lies till I die.

Still, I hear that it’s amazing
when it’s finally right
When love and purpose
is finally in sight.

Although it has been my choice to remain single, and I stand by my ideals of what I want in a soulmate, I confess these moments of sadness when I think about what I don’t have! How utterly human of me! God help me stay strong, remain open to possibilities, and above all else, CONTENT to be right where I am in life…Because sometimes, what I have is pretty amazing too!

And by the way, this morning I also learned that the word “amazing” is in the top 20 most overused words in our language!

Listening….

Recently I faced what could be a life-altering decision. Actually two. On paper, the choices that I should make were obvious. But I felt a tugging towards other options, and peace did not come to me until after I made my decisions accordingly.

You might call that instinct. Some believe that intuition can guide you through life, if you’re quietly in tune with that inner voice.

I haven’t always been quiet enough to hear those warnings inside, telling me what to do, what and who to avoid, and decisions I should and shouldn’t make. In fact, I kinda sucked at it most of my life!

So in my relatively recent quest to learn who I am at the core of my being, I started to recognize and listen to that “voice.” I attribute this to having gained more control over my emotions and giving less response to people and situations, in listening more than I talk, spending increased time in prayer and meditation, and in searching for guidance in Scripture. But mostly, just listening.

listening
Something I’ve learned – If you keep having the same quiet thought that something might not be right, or it feels like your soul gets pinched when you’re about to make a certain decision – that might actually be God talking to you! You should listen, even if it’s against what you want. Because one day when you look back, you’ll see He knew best!

Isaiah 55:8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah 1:5“Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you…”

Matthew 10:30“But the very hairs on your head are numbered.”

Isaiah 49:16“See, I have engraved your name on the palm of my hands.”

How awesome it is to know the Creator of the universe sees me, knows me, loves me, AND has my well-being at heart! He sees the whole spectrum of my life, from beginning to end, and knows what might seem okay to me now might not be good for me down the road.

So…instinct or God? I guess it’s hard to tell. As a believer who has lived in faith most of my life (but stepped out long enough to wreck my life), I lean towards trusting that my footsteps are ordered and He will guide me if I give Him my control of my heart and life…and if I listen!

It’s not easy though, and trusting in an unseen force is certainly against human nature. But through trial and error, I found that quiet trust in His guidance is the way to live in peace.

I can’t really explain why I made the decisions I did. But for once, I just know they were the right ones.

Not sure why I wrote this. Just thinking about how grateful I am for every door that’s been opened for me, AND for every closed one!

Life After Disney

Life after Disney

I got this Disney Cruise Line promo in the mail today. It made me cry. Not because the idea of a magical getaway makes me sad – quite the contrary. It’s because I was transferring emotions from my life lately into this beautiful, picturesque Disney propaganda.

It seems like yesterday when I held my daughter up to see her favorite Disney characters in the parade on Main Street. It seems like last week when she carried her stuffed Simba in a baby blanket throughout the parks, or the day she was dressed as Princess Jasmine from head to toe.

But this week was quite the contrast. Two nights ago, I was awoken at 2:00 a.m. by her bursting through my front door, makeup and tears streaming down her face. She was shaking like a leaf when she told me about a strange girl who was obviously strung out on drugs, begging for help at her front door, following her into her house as my daughter tried to wake her roommate for help. “Mom, I didn’t know what to do! My phone was in the other room, she was following me through the house, and my roommate was drunk and wouldn’t wake up!” To make a long story short, she was very traumatized by the event, and has refused to go back to her house since, so she has been staying with me again.

I’m apparently not handling this stage of life very well, as I wiped away real tears tonight looking at this Disney promo. I want life to stop, or at least slow down. I want to see my daughter’s face light up with that precocious smile she had before she ate the proverbial apple and had her eyes opened to the pain and evil in life.

I want to stop being sick. I’m in my third month of virus after virus, and my immune system is shot. I want to love my job again – but burnout has hit me full force. I want to be with the people I love, and not miss them night after night.

And I really want to go on a Disney cruise.