Finding my purpose among the thorns

I woke up today with my body feeling as though it were being invaded with hot thorns throughout every vain. I am learning, even though this has been going on for some time now, this is the beginning of what is called a psoriatic arthritis flare.  After I showered, trying to ease the feeling, the thorn feeling began to come at me from the outside on the surface of my skin. I’m not even mentioning the way my joints feel in my legs or neck. That is for another day.  

As I sat there, I asked myself the question again; how and why I am to use this time in my life for God’s glory.

[side note: The reason I asked myself this question is because when I first started having these problems, someone said to me, why do you think all of this is happening? My first response was, I don’t know but God is not shocked, and I know that I am to look for ways to give Him the glory.]  

I am so mad about all of this. Heck, I am still mad about things that happened on July 27, 2015. Why did Mackenzie have to die? So, am I even capable to use anything in my life for God’s glory? Does He want me to? Would it matter? 

I began being consumed with the thought of roses and the thorns that are on a rose bush.  

The first thought that came to my mind was the quote by Lincoln. I’m not sure if I can be thankful for the thorn bush yet. But, for today, I have done all I can do to at least focus on the fact that at least the thorn bush has roses. In addition, I have focused on what else the thorn bush does. It protects so many things, baby birds and other small things that otherwise would not make it. The rose is beautiful and shines when it can, but it is weak. Alone it is prone to disease and invasion, without the gardener who works with it diligently, pruning it and working in around the thorns to take care of the rose, the rose would die. It would be destroyed by the invasion of disease that love to consume the rose. The thorns would overtake the rose. In the big picture the thorns, no matter how painful they are, protect the rose. How are my thorns, aka psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and several other autoimmune syndromes that I have “protecting” me I do not know, but they have a purpose in my life currently. The gardener as He works through the thorns, to prune and care for the rose bush, He is in a sense caring not only for the rose, but for the thorn bush.  

So, I want to enjoy and be happy for days that have roses outweigh the thorns. But I must remember my thorn bush is somehow a protection. Only the master gardener in His wisdom knows that. I can’t see His full plan, but I must remember to trust His heart. It’s not easy, not easy at all. But I have too. I must believe that even when it hurts the most, and when I feel as though I am the biggest burden and let down to my family, the Gardner is taking care of me and wanting me to wait until the roses bloom again.  

Advertisements

A letter to my family and friends

Dear family, friends and anyone on a journey they are not sure they are ready for…

We are at the beginning of a new journey. And this one is a very different one, at least for me. This time, I am the one that is in the seat being taken on the journey and not just observing.

Along with other things that we are still watching, I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and psoriatic arthritis. To be honest, I’m having a hard time talking about it, but I’m really going to need your love and support as I go through this journey.

Fibromyalgia, (yes it is real! Many times, I have been told by doctors and others that it is a fake disease or it is all a mental thing) is a Syndrome effecting the central nervous system. In addition to this, I have also been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease which has many factors involved with it.

At times, I might be feeling down, in pain, or just exhausted from dealing with the effects, but you might never know it because this is an invisible illness. However, because every day, every hour is different, I will appreciate and be honored for you being there for me in every way. Especially in prayer.

Again, I come to the place where I say, God is not here in shock or shaking his head in surprise at this. He knew this was happening. Now it’s just up to me. Up to me to look at what and where He is to be Honored and Glorified.

Love you so much,

Shelley

[ You can find creditable information here if you would like: Fibromyalgia Information  and Arthritis.org ]

Stumbling upon a nest egg

I have often thought what would happen if I ever stumbled upon a nest egg. The type that stories are written about and movies are made. I never dreamed that I might have it happen.

What does a person do when they are asked the following question?

“What do you want to do that will make you feel valued and make you want to get up every day and go to work? Give me a list of those things so we can find a way to make it happen.”

That is the nest egg I stumbled across. How do I even begin to answer that question? I suppose I could list a thousand crazy out of this world ideas, but that would not be a reality. Because in this scenario it comes down to this; the Lord has been prepping me for this question. Again, I didn’t see it coming. I was not paying attention that a nest egg was about to be in my path. I have had so many times when I have been able to see how He has led and directed things, and yet this time again, I wasn’t paying attention.

Over the last several months I have been reading, listening to several podcasts, watching videocast, attending webinars etc. All of them about how to create an atmosphere where people feel appreciated in an intrinsic way. How a work culture can have an environment that fosters not only all the bells and whistles of a great place to work but an environment that cultivates and promotes healthy friendships. A sense of belonging.  A mental mindset that encourages people to change their inner voice when the stress of life becomes so loud, that they are able to quiet the negative inside and only hear the cheering of those around them and eventually hear their own cheers.

As Julie Zhuo states, the pressure is everywhere in life. However, I want to be a part of the change. And I believe I now have the chance. Instead of living in a world where the normal narrative is (Zhuo, 2018);

“I need to do something because…

  • Everything around me will fall apart otherwise.
  • I’ll be a failure if the thing I’m working on fails.
  • People I care about are going to think I’m incompetent.
  • I’ll be found out as a fraud.
  • I’m worried about my career, which will put my future and my family’s future at risk.” Zhuo, J. (2018). Good Pressure, Bad Pressure – Julie Zhuo

I want to find a way to move the narrative to something more like;

“I want to do something because…

  • I believe my work matters
  • My teammates inspire me to be my best
  • I want to be the change I want to see in the world
  • I’m empowered to have even more impact
  • I feel supported by those around me in reaching my goals” Zhuo, J. (2018). Good Pressure, Bad Pressure – Julie Zhuo

This is my chance, I believe. This is my nest egg if you will. I know how to answer the question. Now, it will be a matter of putting the knowledge into action.

I just love the article I have attached, it is the only article by this writer that I have read. But it has some very good points to it. So, I have attached the full citation so you can read it for yourself.

Another site that I am truly fond of is girlfriendcircles.com. Because making friends is hard people. Check this website out I know you will love it as much as I do.

https://members.girlfriendcircles.com/share/6NYyVnOsIAV9IRl1.

 

Zhuo, J. (2018). Good Pressure, Bad Pressure – Julie Zhuo – Medium. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@joulee/good-pressure-bad-pressure-c8d9ff4530a5 [Accessed 28 Jun. 2018].

 

I was just going in for milk

Last week, I must admit I was having a really bad week. You know, one of those weeks that you just want to cocoon away from the world and never come out. Yes, that type of week.

I have started back to school to complete my degree. An assignment I had to complete had gotten the best of me. I let my mind overtake all sense of theoretical thinking and could not accomplish anything. At work, I received several of those types of comments that, tend to get inside my head. The kind that satan knows just how to throw out when all my strength is gone.

I was about to head out the door for work, when I went to grab my drink the way I always do. However, we were out of milk. So I decided I would just run to 7-11 and grab some milk. No big deal, right?

I was about to go in to the store and the man who sleeps by the dumpster was standing outside the door. As I walked by him, my inner voice said; “at least smile and say hi”. So I did. He mumbled something. To which I kept walking. As I got inside to purchase my milk I remembered the tattoo on my foot. It simply states,

LIVE LIKE THAT

As I stood looking at the milk I found myself, wondering if he would like milk. Then I thought, “no I wouldn’t want milk if I didn’t have anything to eat”. So I found myself with orange juice and milk at the counter. I figured if he was going to have to start off his day, I would at least give him some orange juice. It’s the least I could do.

As I walked out of the store, I walked to him and handed him the orange juice. He mumbled again, and sat the orange juice down. I don’t know what he said, or did with the orange juice. I just know, I wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t just for show. I wanted to make sure I was living a life I felt called to. I wanted to make sure if I was the last person who the man who sleeps by the dumpster spoke to on this day, that he at least saw a person who was listening to what God told her to do, this time. I wanted to LIVE LIKE THAT, no matter what type of week I had.

If anything , this week has shown me. The characterization of human nature displayed in Genesis 1-3 is very accurate today. Human history shows that the default nature of humanity is sinful. As a result of this, my human nature is to always seek out my own desire over that of what God desires for me. That is why, it is so easy in today’s society to struggle with the scripture that talks of denying yourself and following Christ. Luke 9:23 (ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Which is the exact struggle I had all week, with each decision I made and each thought I had. Thankfully, even though I seek my own desires, God is always faithful. It is in His very nature and who He is. And I/we are created in His image. Even, after the fall of man there are remnants of His image still inside all of us. Due to this, I hold to the steadfast hope that He will restore me as He promised.

 

Eating crow isn’t always bad

Eating crow is not always a bad thing, especially when it is served hot and fresh from Granddad.

Around 24 years ago you told me you were NOT leaving this world until you got to meet your first great-grand baby. I, at the time, was the only one of your grand kids, carrying one of your great-grand-babies.

We were able to introduce you to Miss Mackenzie Rappe’ on December 25, 1993 at approx. 6 pm-ish. In keeping with your word, which you always did, you moved to your forever home on December 26, 1993. Fast forward, Miss Mackenzie joined you there, less than 22 years later. With that being said, Happy Heavenly Birthday Granddad!!!!

65953270-232A-48AF-91BB-F87A642EB13F-6205-000002B7B1EA77D6

Today, as I find myself struggling with jealousy, questioning God and His choices, resentment, and anger with God. All of this over the fact she is not here on earth, forgetting the fact He answered our prayer AND unbeknownst to others, but many of her own prayers. When He whispered in her ear, come home my good and faithful one. He answered our parents prayer by healing her completely.

You may say, “hey stupid, she died”. Yes, her physical body did. Just like my granddads body did. But (the but is a big pink eraser, it erases everything I just said) BUT, their bodies were completely healed when they moved to their forever home. Along with that, granddad is going to get to know Mackenzie better than I ever did. And she will know him. They also get to know and be with each other longer than I was with either of them. No one can take that away from either them. I long for that experience and knowledge. I long to be with the two of them.

All of that brings me to why I am writing again. I needed to get this frustration and anger out of my head. I needed to tell the The Thief in the Night, NOT TODAY SATAN, NOT TODAY.

I have always told my family, well anyone that would listen. When it comes to my granddad, Edwin Lafayette Cook. One simple story; in my opinion he sits in heaven right next to Jesus, yes that is my translation. And, I have no question about it.

IMG_1531

When I hear the following scriptures;

“James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.” “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.” “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.” Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?” “Sure,” they said. “Why not?” Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”

When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:35-45‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I can see my granddad hearing these scriptures as a child and later as a bible reading and God fearing man, taking these scriptures to heart. I will not go in to all the details, but he was a servant through and through. He gave up so much for others. I guess somehow that story got in the heart of Mackenzie, she also served. And into the heart of Dustyn. She has a servants heart like no other! It is in their DNA.

Today, I am grateful for all of them. And more than that, I am grateful for my friend that was able to speak truth to me today. To remind me, not allow satan to steal away from me the knowledge that The Father had instilled me in 24 years ago and then again 2 years ago. HE is in charge. He knows best. He answers prayers the way HE sees the world, both spiritually and for the people in the earthly world. HIS WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS. We are to live looking to tomorrow not yesterday. We are to serve in His name, that is all. We cannot and will not be able to bear what HE bore for us.  That is why HE came.  HE LOVED US that much. His word is a living thing, speaking to us and working through us. My granddad instilled that in me. God used him for this day. I am so thankful for that.

I may still be hurt for some things happening right now. I may still be angry for things happening right now. BUT GOD is big enough to handle it all and for that I am so thankful.

 

JUNE!

June, the month of holidays.  June the month I want to ignore.

June 2nd – PT Barnum’s circus begins first tour of US

June 6th – WWII D-Day remembrance

June 13th – Jerry and Shelley wedding anniversary

June 14th – Flag Day

June 18th – Father’s Day

June 19th – 722 days since Mackenzie was admitted to day 1 of the Hospital

I now HATE June!!!!!! I used to love June.  But, I now hate it.  Which, really irritates me because June is my wedding anniversary.  In fact, this year we will cross the 30th year of marriage.  I can’t say we will celebrate, we will try.

Many people will ask, “why are you not celebrating? Hasn’t it been long enough”?  My only reply to them is this,

“I hope you never have to go through this to the point you will understand why I will never be able to answer you to the point you will feel happy with my answer”.

Complicated answer, I know.  But it’s a complicated situation now.  You see, the thing that took Mackenzie from us, it came out of no where.  We had NO clue it was coming, no warning, no signs.  It just came out of no where.  And now, these are the things I catch myself sitting and thinking about.

7985 Days – Mackenzie’s was only 21y, 10m, 12d when she moved to her forever home

7203 Days – Dustyn’s was only 19y, 8m, 18d when her big sister moved, unexpectedly out of her earthly life. To leave her to walk the rest of this life in a way she has never known.

Finally, 7931 Days.  And Dustyn’s age will be 21y, 8m, 18d at the 2 yr anniversary of Mackenzie moving on to her forever home.  I know she is waiting on us, and in my heart I know it is so much better than anything here, I just cannot wrap my head around it.  Especially right now in June, as it leads up to JULY. 

IMG_2794