Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
My Thanksgiving was sort of like that last scenario. I was DETERMINED; really determined, to make a nice day out of it...despite the fact that it was one year to the day since my father in law had died and my husband is struggling with that as well as with some other stresses and is exhausted beyond words. Despite the fact that my daughter is in the midst of her own struggles. Despite the fact that my own respiratory health is pretty precarious since I've gotten home from the hospital and is really limiting what I can do...and despite the fact that we were going out for sushi and a movie rather than celebrating in a traditional manner. And I ALMOST succeeded....
The day had its ups and downs emotionally and relationally...the meal itself was enjoyable...but there were a bunch of tensions which emerged at other times...and when I got home that night; I was spent. Drained emotionally and physically. And very much felt like crying.
If only I could learn to just go for the ride; take it for what it is without having any anticipation or preconception of what it SHOULD be like. If only I didn't feel obligated to put up a tree and decorations--then I wouldn't be so disappointed with myself that I just CAN'T manage to do it strength or breath-wise. If only I could approach the days without anticipating that cinnamon and gingerbread-scented scenario that my childhood calls up for me...a role model that I feel an OBLIGATION to emulate. Baking; preparation; gift giving; HAPPINESS;....you get the picture.
Part of the problem is that I know that on some level my daughter would like all of that; and has her own expectations....which she has carefully stifled and buried into a sea of obdurate resignation....and I so much wish I could fulfill every hidden wish that she has! I know that her greatest wish though is just that I will BE HERE and be in my right mind for the holiday. So maybe I need to spend more time and energy guarding that possibility instead of trying to meet all the ancillary ones and then blowing the big one!!
Expectations are killers. And yet they are much of which the holidays are comprised. And I think that they are also the reason that depression and sadness and lonliness are so rampant in this season. I'm going to really try to just take it as it comes; to have one goal and one goal only and to take steps to guard that goal...and to try to let go of all the others.
To take from the hand of God whatever comes this holiday and to maintain a thankful heart for the blessings I can find in it. Yeah, I know 'Thanksgiving' is over...but thankfulness never goes out of style.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
- It reminds of of how much we are loved...(Can there ever be too much of that???)
- It gives us a sense of security and removes our fear.
- And at the same time, it spawns an awareness in us of our great need to keep things "right" between us and the Power that keeps, protects, provides for, and loves us.
- And finally, it removes from us that bitterness that is so rampant in today's society of "things not being fair;" that angry "what's in it for me?;" that accusation that shakes our fist in God's face and demands that He act differently than He does.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
For those of you who are currently struggling with your own demons of mental illness; family members who suffer with disabilities; sons or daughters who seem hell-bent on learning the hard way; I would like to offer a word of encouragement and hope...as well as my most fervent prayers that God will speedily grant you peace and joy...And that while He goes about that process, that you would be enabled to remain fixed in trust and a solid certainty that your God will ride the winds to help you...and that He is EVEN NOW, doing just that.
I want to thank those of you who have contacted me, either personally, or via email; and shared with me your stories and allowed me the privilege of bearing with you the burden of prayer and faith in your struggles. And if you haven't yet done that, please feel welcome and safe to do so...I consider it to be my God-given gift and responsibility to have this as a ministry to those of you who still are mining the Darkness and seeking the Treasures that God has promised there for you. I pray that Yahweh will prove Himself to be the Strong Helper and Loving God that I know Him to be.
I was the most hopeless of cases...Lost in decades of despair...the sickest one in almost every psych ward I visited; considered to be beyond help...and certainly out of range of any kind of normal life... I do not claim that my life is normal, but I would agree with Francis Chan and my friend Sara Frankl (the following is a quote from Sara's blog www.Gitzengirl.blogspot.com .
“Of course there are moments when I long for a more normal life”
“God set me on this path and lined it with blessings. I can’t presume my dreams would have turned out better than His plans just because they seem easier in my mind.”
There is a sentence under one of (Francis) Chan’s videos on his website
that talks about how all of us are striving for a normal life, but have we ever
stopped to think that maybe the goal in life shouldn’t be normalcy? That one
sentence made my circumstances make sense to me. If I judge my life against
others… or even against the life I used to have… if I’m grading myself on a
curve of normalcy, then of course I look short-changed. But that’s not the goal.
The goal is to live the best life I can with what I am given
….Obviously my life is intensely abnormal compared to others, and these past few months have been the hardest of my life. But I still wouldn’t trade it for the normal one I always thought I would have, because this is the one He meant for me to live.
It’s a relief to know we’re not graded on a curve, but instead loved for exactly
who we are designed to be
Friday, November 20, 2009
Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm
Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.
Psalm 73:25,26 (AMP)
That's what this verse is all about. For some people, heaven is a reunion with those who've gone on before them; people they loved who have died and are now in heaven. For people who suffer physically or mentally, heaven takes on a different kind of appeal...But these two verses say that ALL THAT ASIDE: the real deal is to finally see the Lord Jesus and to just BE THERE with HIM. He is the only one we really will have eyes for. His love is the only real benefit we will thirst for; HE IS THE CENTER ATTRACTION....so much so that everything else pales in comparison.
I have a new habit; it is to go to my blog here and play and replay Kari Jobe's song "Healer" which I have embedded at the top of the sidebar. One day, yes, I will be healed....but the best thing is that HE IS MY PORTION; the only thing I will desire in heaven; the only one for whom I will have eyes.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
(and just ask Dr. Oz what he thinks of enriched products!)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
That may have been an all time record for run-on sentences...so if you found yourself up to your neck in clauses and had very little resolution, let me try to say it "short and sweet":
I'm going home. I have lots to think about. And hopefully that will lead me to have lots to say, once I get organized. STAY TUNED FOR MORE STUFF!!
Also, due to my husband's marvelous talent and predeliction for online research, "I" have "discovered" new data with which to inform and encourage you as you deal with mental illness; either that of your own or of a family member. I will try hard to discipline myself to put it all down here in manageable and userfriendly form. So come back to visit often; or follow this blog, or make use of the RSS feed feature, so that you don't miss nuttin'. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and even criticisms. Please comment freely. BFN my friends.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
1) I don’t want to get old
2) I already am well on my way to being there
3) I want to go home and suck the juice out of what life remains—
4) And will do so, granted that conventional medicine hasn’t already taken too big of a bite out of my health to be able to do it.
I know that, as a Christian, I can’t “kick against the goads” and forestall the grinning specter of Death based on human effort, or striving… I know that God will either grant me the health to do His work, or He will grant me the work that suits my health….And the “Work” He gives is not a number of laps on a treadmill…it is a stretching and expansion of my soul…(and it really SHOULD accompany a shrinkage of my waistline at the same time…if I can just get these legs to get me up and out a LITTLE bit more…and if He should enable me to stay off of the steroids for any significant amount of time so that my weight can ever stop catching up to itself as it runs circles around me.)
But even if my waistline refuses to be mitigated; my soul needn’t be. Thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ that our “whole health” is not something to be purchased, worked for, or even earned….It is a gift…and my soul can be entirely invigorated and healthy, even if it should find my body on a respirator. And meanwhile my soul can dance and sing “There ain’t no Grave that’s gonna hold this body down….” And Jesus may well be the only audience to my song and dance, but that’s okay; He’s lovin’ it!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
And it is all being purified and banged into some kind of intangible corporeality amidst the furnace of aches and pains, frustrations, love exchanged for hatred, sickness and continual pain of my life. A constant belief and life of giving I’ve chosen over one of bitterness and resentment; a life of faith and trust, a life of obedience and confession is one where I keep an open out held hand outstretched, with the other one held securely by my Father in a balance of receiving and outpouring of the understandings and resources He gives me as I then pass them on to others.
….Knowing all along that it is the smiles exchanged between me and my Father that is the biggest draw to those hungry, lonely, aching masses…not really looking for a handout…just for a SMILE like that. A proud, “Your one of my favorite Kids” – smiles. I get them all the time…but I’m still not real clear on why. All I know is my Dad loves me, though I’ve certainly given Him reason to cry some big tears.
I don’t always understand the things my Dad tells me to do; like to go and embrace someone that doesn’t smell so pleasant, to pray for someone who is cursing me, or to do a favor for someone when my own body is screaming out of its own pain….and I don’t always do these things perfectly or immediately. That’s why I’m still alive; I’m still learning, growing and in training for the really BIG stuff ahead. But most of all, I just want to see Him smile at me with that “That’s my girl”-smile, that I love so much.
My Father has some odd ways of doing things. People have had the nerve to call HIM the crazy one or the fool…or have had the gall to play HIM for a fool…Just because they don’t comprehend someone who thinks outside of the dimensions of time, energy and space, doesn’t give them the right to think they know any better than He does! You see, my Father is not motivated by bribery, or lies, or get rich quick schemes. He is not into “bless me here, bless me right now” scenarios either.
He runs by his own Timeless ways, in His own schedule, not hurried nor slowed by anyone or anything….And it is guaranteed to get all done, right in the perfect nick of time. I love that about Dad. He always has to squeeze that beautiful laugh out of a moment where there was hands sweating and nail biting a moment before. That laugh that says, “It just couldn’t have been any better than this, now could it??”
The world is full of moments like these that my Dad has arranged so carefully….my own life is chock full of them…but we, like the evening news, have ways of fixing our eyes on the pain, the dirt, the suffering and the frightening things instead of on the stuff that REALLY matters and we miss out on so much of the wonder around us….but that doesn’t stop my Dad from bringing on the good stuff…it’s all around us…Open your eyes and wipe your glasses clean. Focus your eyes on Jesus and what is coming NEXT and soon you will have eyes to see and hears to hear, the way my Dad wants to perfect in all of us.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Today at 7:14pm
Here in the hospital still…Almost a week down and still at the maximum dosage of IV steroids that they give for asthma via IV. The damage is beginning to be evident in my body…exhaustion and weakness, terrible tremors, swollen face and body,… I am praying that they leave my mind alone this time…My mind is still too tenuous in its level of control following my last psych hospitalization (going on what, now? Two weeks ago?)
I look at this person, bad lungs, messed up cardiac situation, terrible mental issues, and think sometimes: “God, what are you THINKING creating a mess like me?? And then having the audacity to bless me at one past time with beauty, talent in numerous areas, intelligence.....???” It really is all beyond me, what He is up to. Am I still in “basic training?” Is there some big mission ahead of me that somehow requires all of this “specialized training?”
Or does my future lie in being abandoned, either in a nursing home, state mental institution, homeless on a street corner…? And will it require all of my past history to either deal with it successfully without spitting in God’s face once again or else to summon sufficient pathos to make a movie from the vestiges of a destroyed life that had once smacked of promise. (ala, : The Soloist). (Hope you can recognize the tongue - in - cheek tone of these questions!)
At a recent Christian Writer’s Conference, I was “prophesied over” and prayed over …both women having similar visions of me speaking to crowds of thousands…. Of course, that does not eliminate the possibility of a private/public platform, such as a writer who is still homebound or worse; or a platform built on an online presence; or even of God shakin' all the sickness right out of me and getting my butt really UP THERE on a stage somewhere…and all of the above seem equally audacious to me and eons away from any place that I find myself in reality.
Sometimes I pray that God will see fit to give me a quiet life (okay, avoid the temptation to SNORT here, please)….and then allow my platform to be built posthumously…ala: Emily Dickinson or even Oswald Chambers and spare me the exhaustive pain and strain that a more active life would entail for me…who has real difficulty making it to Shop Rite. I guess that's the lazy man's way (or the really tired late/middle aged woman's point of view).
It all comes down to this question, (and it is one that I’ve found myself pondering repeatedly today): What does God see me as doing? As BEING?? Today? Tomorrow? Am I there? Am I living out His vision for me? Am I even on the same map? Am I on track for the place he’s taking me to be?
How, realistically speaking, does one get to be in that ideal state of “There-ness” and “Readiness” at the same time? Seems like one heck of a balancing (balanced?) act. That is it is I guess. To be settled and content where I am now, reaping its blessings, sucking them dry and then filling and serving the glasses with the fruit of the vine I’ve made of it, not forgetting to plant whatever seeds I come across and to tend them….and also being ready at the blink of the Father’s eye, to pack up and move on…to the next stage or off the stage entirely…not looking behind with any regret, nor ahead with any fear…Just tucking my hand into my Daddy’s and trotting along to the next place He has arranged for me. "Ok, Dad, it’s okay….I’ll go where you take me…I only need to know YOU”LL be with me there, OK, Dad??...Just don’t leave me and I’ll be just fine.”
(“I will never leave you, nor forsake you…” “I go….that where I am, there you may be also.” Y'shua ha' Meschiach)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So then, I just had to check my email after fish flopping in pain in bed for awhile....but was tired still...so shut down and determined to shut my eyes...Yet more pain...and a noise. When I opened them, a gentleman in a lab coat carrying the famous "dracula"-box of supplies entered my room asking softly, "Mrs. Vogel??" Ahhh, yes, my daily guest from the lab, here to squeeze more of the fruit of my veins, for them to continue to run the daily sodium levels and cell counts on it. I have to say, he was a gentleman (must have been his soft French accent) and good at his job. He gently "tsk-tskked" at the IV patched-over failed tries and promptly found a vein (granted, even HE had to fish a bit), then said his goodbyes and turned out the light. Re-enter the nurse with "One more pill"...OK, NOW to sleep.
Okay. Lord, I give up. By now it is undeniably light outside although looking still to be another gray day. From my window, I can see offices across the road, with cars pulling into the lots with the drivers, sleepy-eyed and carrying their travel mugs of coffee, as they hurry in for the morning's rush of work. I think it is the staff arriving for their 7-3 shift at that nursing home located there, handily next to the hospital.
So Father, what did you want to tell me? There is a song that played on my mp3 player this morning, still ringing in my mind:
"I am not skilled to understand; what God has willed, what God has planned. I only know at His right hand stands
one who is my Savior...
I take Him at his word and I believe,
Christ died to save me this I read and
in my heart I find a need of Him to be my Savior.
That He would leave His Father's place on high and for sinful man to die--
You count it strange so once did I; before I knew my Savior.
My Savior loves my savior lives my savior's always there for me;
My God, He was; My God, He is; My God; He's always gonna be...."
So Lord, Okay. Reminds me of a Facebook message I got the other day...from a friend, a man of 76 telling me how at age six he lost both parents and eight siblings in a single day. The message ended with "God's ways are perfect and beyond finding out, Who can know them?" Which is a quote from Job, I believe.... But we have now, one that we DIDN'T have when Job or whoever penned those lines. We have Emmanuel...God with us. God in the flesh of a man by the name of "Y'shua", Joshua in English, "Jesus, in Greek"...all meaning "Savior" or "Salvation."
This God-man suffered. Like we do. In a body condemned by the blight of sin's Fall from the perfection that God had originally created. In a body condemned to age and to feel pain, sweat, hard labor, and limitations and much exhaustion. And He died an excruiciating death that demanded every surge of physical and moral stamina and faith that a mortal man could summon....and then, He trusted. He left this earth, trusting that His Father would bring Him back; because He knew His Dad...Always, always true to His word.
So what does all this mean? To me? Here in this hospital bed? I don't know what the future brings. All I know is that I woke tired and hurting. I don't know if tomorrow my temperature will escalate and announce some new infection, if the "crackles" the nurse just heard in my lungs signifies some danger brewing, as it has in the past, or whether soon I will be patched up and sent home to await the news of the next days....But I know that, by my side, stands One who KNOWs. Knows the pain; knows the fear and lonliness; knows the tiredness; ...and He, most of all , KNOWS the FATHER. He knows the Father cannot fail and will not fail to live up to His promises. For those who remain on earth, that often means much harder things to come.
But for those who know the SON, Emmanuel; we know that Salvation has come, died, and overcome even death...carrying us, hell's captives, with Him back to heaven's realms...where He sits and waits...like we are....for the day when He will return as our KING, or will call us to be with Himself first. And I know HIM NOW because He has given His Spirit to live in me until at last we are all united in the New Jerusalem, His coming Kingdom.
So we cannot question what happens to us here and now...NOR should we fear it!! For by our side we have God Himself with us and in us: and "If God be for us; Who can (dare) stand against us?"
...And all morning, every tune on my "Zune" has played songs of man's fear and aloneness and weakness...and God's loving, KNOWING presence.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The third problem that has been addressed is one in which I recognized my need, but because of the way my insurance was set up, was prevented financially from getting it met. I was in desperate need of some Occupational Therapy training and equipment to assist me in getting dressed and getting my shoes and socks on due to increasing disability from my several types of arthritis. As I await bi-lateral hip replacements which are pending, the problems are increasingly severe and troubling. Thankfully God had me think to mention this to my MD and he ordered a visit from the inpatient OT who has set me up with the equipment that I need and some exercises to continue with at home. This is such a blessing to me. Every morning prior to coming here, I had to beg God to somehow help me get dressed so that I would not have to ask my daughter or husband. And He has used a surprising (as is usual for Him) way of answering that prayer.
As for the breathing: it is slowly improving. I feel deceptively well while laying in bed...even this morning, for a while, taking off my O2. However, in my ambition this morning to smell better, I finally got permission to shower, and there discovered my limitations. I survived the shower, but just. And had to rest a bit, with the O2 back on and leave the cleanup to one of the aides. But altogether, am doing better, I think.
I even slept for a LONG time last night, which was desperately needed. So today, on my 20th anniversary of marriage to my one and only husband, all is looking well...except that I won't be able to see him today as he has to work for ten hours and then hurry home to our daughter who is lonely today on school holiday by herself.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I just read a wonderful, heartlifting story online about a little boy (a year old) named Stellan (see: www.mycharmingkids.net or for the latest in the story:http://www.mycharmingkids.net/2009/11/its-going-its-going.html). Amazingly, he is the nephew, I believe, of another avid blogger whom I follow: http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/ written by a young woman who suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis...a disease related to one of my arthritic diseases: psoriatic spondylosis. Both Sara and her family love the Lord and Stellan's story (as well as Sara's) is an amazing tale of God's miraculous mercy; both when He heals and also when He chooses not to do so.
Anyway, I finally got my medication so will probably pass out soon. Please continue to pray for my family and me. Pray that this will be an uncomplicated, not very lengthy stay in the hospital, uncluttered by infections or psychiatric problems, both made more likely by the steroids. Good night all!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
How happy is anyone who fears Adonai....he will never be moved....He will not be frightened by bad news: he remains steady, trusting in Adonai. His heart is set firm, he will not be afraid, till finally he looks in triumph at his enemies. Ps 112:6a,7,8
Then I turned on some music and it was the first time I'd heard my favorite praise songs in a LONG time and hearing them was both with the joy of recognition as well as with the freshness of newness...and my heart lifted and danced with them. (Couldn't quite get the body to join in that, but maybe that too will come?) Then Eric (my husband) told me of a strange occurrence in our bank account that he was at a loss to explain, having figured and re-figured and concluded that there would be no trip to the grocery store this week, prior to this. I don't want to be hasty and say that a miracle has occurred, but it does look that way. At the very least, a nice "mistake" somewhere. :)
I've been thinking about the verses above. Do they mean that bad news will never occur? NO. Any Christian can testify to hardship and "bad news" in their lives. But it means that we shouldn't ANTICIPATE it before it comes. Yes, we need to always have our hearts and hands held securely in Adonai's hands and HOLD HIS in return! We need to be in a spirit of dependency and prayer, even before the storm clouds gather; but if we are, we can be assured that the storm will not knock us off of our feet. It will not sever Adonai's grip on us. It does not ever have the power to cause us to fear.
Jesus told his disciples; "Do not fear those that can kill your body, but rather those that can destroy your soul." If our hearts are where they should be, there is NOTHING that Satan can do or throw at us, which should cause us to fear! We are to fear God and Him alone. And if we have the connection to Him of being His children, that fear need never cross the line from respect to terror.
So yes, there are storm clouds on the horizon. That has not changed. But I do not need to tremble, because whether they arrive or not, Yahweh holds my hand!
Friday, November 6, 2009
So what are the circumstances of which I speak? Well I won't go into all of the "possibilities" or even the likelihoods because I don't want to look negatively at the situation. But even speaking realistically, there are some dangers. For one, my asthma is currently quite bad. This is not only frustrating and dangerous in itself, but also it necessitates that I go back on steroids. Now, steroids and I are not good friends! Not only do they accompany a HOST of negative side effects such as weight gain, swelling and weakness, but they also do two other things which are of most concern right now. They cause my mental state to deteriorate and they cause my white cell count to drop. My white cell count and my immunity is already dangerously low because I'm taking Methotrexate for the Psoriatic Arthritis...so lowering it further is like hanging out a sign "Infections Wanted-apply within" and then taking away my funds which I need to pay the new "employee!"
And there are certain financial repercussions which can occur if I need to go into another psychiatric hospital as well as the probability that I will end up someplace I will not like and very much don't want to be. I can come across quite sanely in my writing, but, for those of you who've spoken to me since I've come you from the hospital, you will note that I am far from myself. To lose more ground would be devastating both to my family and me.
There is also a situation with my daughter, which although probably harmless, has the potential of being frightening.... But we will likely not know what way it will go until later next week.
So, today when my mind was swirling around these potentialities like a flushing toilet (please excuse the simile), there came to mind a devotional article which I get via email in daily installments. Today's devotion was by Eddie Jones and he said in reference to Psalm 23 that "the shadow of death" was really not death itself but the fears caused by the circumstances around death. Like "will I be abandoned and alone?" or "will there be a lot of pain?" He said that when that time actually DOES come, we will likely find it much easier to deal with then we did with all the fears prior. Satan does that, you know. He loves to taunt us with possibilities, blowing them all out of proportion, showing us scenes from the worst possible scenarios until we scream for mercy.
So this time, I'm beating him to the punch. I'm closing the door on the imaginations and am already screaming to my Father for His mercy. Because it's pointless to scream at Satan; he has no mercy! Please join me in my prayers for my family and myself. Pray especially for my husband who was already at the breaking point from stress BEFORE all this happened in the past two days.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The pastor, a young man in his really early thirties, sat down on a chair in front of the church and called his two little children to the front to sit on his lap. They were obviously hesitant to go up in front of everyone, but once on his lap, the crowd was forgotten. The only one they had eyes for was DADDY. They snuggled up and settled in, gazing adoringly at his face. He began to speak that if we had any other view of God than this one, we had the wrong idea.
He spoke of how that view, in his mind, was tested during the past week where there'd been many difficult things for a young pastor to deal with, including death. But how, in the end, he had to come back to the fact, that we are God's kids and loved beyond our greatest comprehension. He showed a video of a pastor from our denomination who'd been assailed by a mysterious, undiagnosible illness from which he'd almost died, and which had left him quite disabled. I'd seen the video before and had been very moved, but had forgotten about it.
Pastor Stumbo's message was loud and as clear as his struggling voice could make it: "I don't like this journey that I'm on, but GOD IS IN IT; AND GOD IS GOOD." This arrow also hit home with me. My illness sucks. But God is still in control, and He loves me beyond measure. What more can a girl ask?
Monday, November 2, 2009
The problem was, as she carefully explained to me, that I need to be seen "at least twice a week" and to do anything less would be irresponsible and legally risky to her. And we cannot afford even a quarter of those copays. Plus, my insurance will only pay for thirty mental health days per year. They would be gone in a month.
My advice to you: don't be a "very troubled" person if you make too much money to qualify for assistance and still don't have enough to live. There is some possiblity that I might qualify for state medical assistance on the basis of my disability, but the quality of care would suffer, most likely. There is also the liklihood that we would have to contribute too much money to the spend down to make it feasible to us. Funny: too poor for Medicaid.
I know that God has some plan to provide for those needs, but I don't really have any idea what it is at this point. I've been without a therapist for over a year now...since the last one dumped me via email. I still don't know what I'd done to deserve that. Every professional I've told about it since then cannot believe the manner in which it was done either. No one can fathom a therapist acting so irresponsibly and unkindly...but there it is.
So, I wait...pray...look into my options for medical assistance...and pray some more.