Archives for category: (in)courage

I am writing at the (in)courage blog today, and my inspiration for the post came when I was reading Angie’s first book, I Will Carry You. She managed to take a personal journey of joy and loss in her life, and turn it into something every one of us can learn from in our own lives.

Not a small task. And she did it with grace.

Below is an excerpt from my post:

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It’s an amazing book, one that feels like a bible study mixed in with the beautiful story of her daughter, Audrey. I was only fifty or so pages in when she was talking about the story of Abraham and Isaac, which prompted her to look up the meaning for the word “trial.” This is what her book said:

TRIAL (Old Testament) noun: from the Hebrew word sara which comes from the root srh, which means, “to bind, tie up, restrict.” Thus, the noun comes to denote a narrow place in life where one is bound or restricted

I read it, and then read it again. And as I tried to digest it, I kept muttering to myself, “God, what are you trying to say here?!?!”

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To read my post in its entirety, click here: Trial Personified.

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Something crazy and exciting happened to me recently that I’ve been dying to tell you all about. Why did I wait? To make sure these lovely ladies didn’t change their minds. 🙂

Remember when I guest posted for (in)courage awhile back? I wrote a post called I Surrender, and shortly after it posted they asked me if I’d like to be a regular contributor.

YES. I’M SERIOUS.

So, once a month I’m going to be writing for the (in)courage blog … honored and humbled seem to be the two h-words that keep coming to mind. If you don’t read there regularly, I highly recommend it. The group of women who contribute are insightful and inspiring… again, all I can say is honored and humbled. And they were even patient with me when it took me an entire month to send them a bio for the “About” page. It took me that long to come up with a description of my life beyond being Riley’s go-to girl for dog treats. 🙂

Below is the start of my post, “You Can’t Fix What Isn’t Broken.” Follow the link to read the rest on the (in)courage site.

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I used to be afraid.

When I was little, I had such a fear of something happening to my parents… I would wake up from dreams of them dying or disappearing… not being able to fathom how life could exist without them.

What would I do?

Where would I go?

My godmother was a Presentation Sister, so I wondered if I would go live with her at the Mother House with all of the nuns if something happened to my parents.

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[Not that I would’ve minded that option. They were obviously grooming me early anyway. :)]

Regardless, I worried. I wondered. I let fear overtake my dreams.

Mom would sit on the bed and tell me they had no plans of ever going anywhere. She’d tell me she was healthy; she’d remind me of how strong Dad was and that if he could lift me and throw me above his head, he was certainly strong enough to conquer just about anything else that came his way. I figured that made sense.

Besides, she was my mom. I trusted her. That’s really all it took.

When I got sick in my 20s, that fear crept back in. Not of losing my parents this time, but of losing my life. I wasn’t afraid that I would die, but that I would get to a point where I wouldn’t really be living anymore…

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Click the following link (in)courage – You Can’t Fix What Isn’t Broken to read the rest of the story…

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Edited to add complete post:

I used to be afraid.

When I was little, I had such a fear of something happening to my parents… I would wake up from dreams of them dying or disappearing… not being able to fathom how life could exist without them. What would I do? Where would I go? My godmother was a Presentation Sister, so I wondered if I would go live with her at the Mother House with all of the nuns if something happened to my parents.

mt loretto_0004

[Not that I would’ve minded that option. They were obviously grooming me early anyway. :)]

Regardless, I worried. I wondered. I let fear overtake my dreams.

Mom would sit on the bed and tell me they had no plans of ever going anywhere. She’d tell me she was healthy; she’d remind me of how strong Dad was and that if he could lift me and throw me above his head, he was certainly strong enough to conquer just about anything else that came his way. I figured that made sense.

Besides, she was my mom. I trusted her. That’s really all it took.

When I got sick in my 20s, that fear crept back in. Not of losing my parents this time, but of losing my life. I wasn’t afraid that I would die, but that I would get to a point where I wouldn’t really be living anymore.

I knew how hard it was to cope with the pain and the changes this disease was bringing into my life already, and each time I would do a little research… trying to be informed and ready for whatever lay ahead… I would read about how much more could happen to me.

The progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis is different for everyone. Not everyone becomes disabled, not everyone has all of their systems affected, not everyone becomes like I am today. But I knew it could happen because I had read the stories.

I was, once again, afraid.

But this time, so was everyone else. The look of fear that flickered across the faces of those who loved me when they would ask how bad it could get simply reflected the fear in my own. No one knew the answers. I still don’t know the answer. I only know what I’ll go through as I go through it.

And going through it has been scary. And I have been afraid.

But then one day, the thought passed through my head that if I really trusted God, if I really believed that He cared about every hair on my head, I had nothing to fear.Regardless of what would come into my life, He would make sure I was well.

I had an image in my head of me, standing on a beach with the water lapping against the shoreline. I pictured a line being drawn in the sand and I knew in that moment I could choose Him, or I could choose fear. But I couldn’t choose both…they couldn’t coexist together.

I chose Him.

I chose to believe in God just as much as I believed in my mother’s words when I was a scared little girl.

I chose to trust Him.

Recently, I’ve been asked by many people how I can do that. How can I trust someone, even if that someone is God, when I know that He could have spared me from all of this? How can I trust a God who allows hurt to happen when He has the power to take it all away?

My answer: God fixes what is broken. I trust Him to fix my broken places.

But you can’t fix what isn’t broken.

I don’t believe God did this to me to teach a lesson or to prove a point. There are many reasons I could be sick, and Him inflicting this on me isn’t one of them. But I do believe He didn’t stop it for a reason. Life breaks us sometimes. We have the free will to make decisions that will break us. Other people have the free will to take actions that will break us. Genetics can play a role in making us sick, and that can break us.

I have been through things that have broken my life. And I trust Him to never leave me there. He is the Father who will pick me up when I am fallen, broken, hurt, tired. And He is the Father who fixes me in those broken places. He fixes my spirit, my heart, my sadness, my loneliness. He brings joy and peace and refuge so I am stronger now than before I was broken.

He watched the pieces fall apart, but only so He could put me back together the right way. When life happens and I feel like things are falling apart, breaking into pieces, I just remind myself that He can’t fix what isn’t broken.

And I trust Him to make me whole in the image of His sight, not mine.

As it should be.

I am so incredibly honored to have been asked to contribute at the (in)courage blog today. If you haven’t ever been there, you should absolutely check it out… there is a group of regular contributors who are amazingly insightful and lovely women. I’ve yet to read a post from them that doesn’t leave me feeling inspired, encouraged and reflective.

And today, the crazy people wanted to hear from me. 🙂

Here’s the beginning of my post:

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The only part of launching my blog I didn’t enjoy was coming up with something for the unavoidable “About Me” section. Despite the fact I was blogging about any and all aspects of my life, summing myself up in a few sentences seemed daunting. I wasn’t a wife or a mother. I had already given up my career and taken on a disability status. As I think is true with most people, I felt like I could say who I wasn’t much easier than who I was.

Rather than mess with it, I wrote instead about what I wanted the blog to be for people. One of the lines was this: “This blog is about me, my life, my disease and learning to adapt to the changes life throws at all of us…”

When I read it again recently, the concept just didn’t sit right with me anymore. I remember typing it and believing it, but over the course of writing the blog my perspective changed greatly…

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To read the rest, click on this link: (in)courage ~ I Surrender

Since I don’t normally post on Sundays, I’m going to leave this up on Monday as well, for those who won’t be checking on the weekend. I’ll be keeping up with any comments over there, and will be back with a fresh Gitz Bits on Tuesday. 🙂

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EDITED to add complete post:

The only part of launching my blog I didn’t enjoy was coming up with something for the unavoidable “About Me” section. Despite the fact I was blogging about any and all aspects of my life, summing myself up in a few sentences seemed daunting. I wasn’t a wife or a mother. I had already given up my career and taken on a disability status. As I think is true with most people, I felt like I could say who I wasn’t much easier than who I was.

Rather than mess with it, I wrote instead about what I wanted the blog to be for people. One of the lines was this: “This blog is about me, my life, my disease and learning to adapt to the changes life throws at all of us…”

When I read it again recently, the concept just didn’t sit right with me anymore. I remember typing it and believing it, but over the course of writing the blog my perspective changed greatly. To me, adapting now feels a bit like a negative concept… like God and I have different ideas about my life, and by adapting I’m begrudgingly adjusting my view rather than surrendering to His. I’ve learned through the trial and error of life that I don’t want to adapt anymore.

I want to be so present in my moments that adaptation isn’t necessary.

I have an autoimmune disease that has gradually stripped me of life as I knew it. I went from being a healthy, outgoing, talented individual who dove head first into life, to a person permanently confined to her home. I am in constant pain with limited amounts of movement, energy, and severely limited abilities. It didn’t happen overnight, although sometimes it feels that way. Instead, I’ve spent the last fifteen years watching my life, as I knew it and as I dreamed it to be, slip from my grasp. I lived a number of those years fighting with all of my might to hang on to every piece I could.

I adapted sparingly because I had to, but I didn’t like it.

My doctor didn’t like my version of adapting either, when she walked into my hospital room and saw me working on my laptop. I was typing dictation of an interview I’d conducted from my hospital bed, so I could write an article for the magazine where I worked. And I was doing it while hooked up to IV’s of steroids and antibiotics and Demerol. Yes, I was adapting to my situation, but not graciously. I was fighting for my old life every step of the way.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Having a bit of spunk is a good thing, but the intention behind the spunkiness matters. I wasn’t fighting to maintain my life because I thought it was in God’s plan for me. I didn’t push myself because it was in my physical or mental best interest. I fought because I was stubborn and wanted my life to be the one I had planned. I was adapting as a compromise between my desires and His.

And there should be no compromising when it comes to God’s purpose.

So, I’ve changed my thinking… and it changed my heart. Just as much as I would embrace a miracle of healing with open arms, I choose to embrace all that comes into my life the same way. I’ve learned to embrace the pain. Embrace the solitude. Embrace the constantly changing plan of my day as my pain and energy levels fluctuate.

I’ve stopped trying to adapt between what I want and what I have… and I’ve learned instead to want what I’m given. By removing the expectations I placed on my life, I’ve come to appreciate the moments He’s entrusted to me.

It doesn’t make the journey easy.

But it does make it worthwhile.

There are lessons in the pain. There is discovery in the solitude. There are blessings in the opportunities that have come because of my limitations. I’ve learned to love hearing about what’s going on in the world outside of my home as much as I loved living it with my friends.

I see every moment of my life now, both the difficult and the joyful, as moment to be embraced. Because I know that God is in the middle of all of them. He is in the center of my storms and my blessings. He sees it all with eyes that know and understand and foresee the purpose of my situation. And I want what He wants.

So I no longer adapt, compromise or adjust. I surrender. I simply trust that whatever is in front of me at any given moment, He is in the center of it.

And there’s no place else I’d rather be.