To the Person in Pain and Clouded in Darkness

I know it hurts.

I know the darkness seems to be closing in on you and you cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I know this path is not easy . The pain is not easy. The dissapointments are overwhelming and they hurt so much.

I ackowledge your pain and the feeling of losing control of everything.

I acknowledge YOU and your deepest aches.

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Most people cannot know your pain, your weariness and fatigue.

Even if you tried to explain, they would not understand.

Most people cannot grasp the darkness you face and I am so sorry you are going through this.

I know that God knows. I believe it aches His Papa heart. I believe He wants to take it away and it hurts Him to watch you go through it but I also believe He is allowing it for a greater purpose than you and I can presently grasp. He will turn it for good-not for His own selfish gain-but for all of our gain-for the good of all-some how-some way.

When He suffered and died for you and me, He experienced our pain and hurts.

He knows. He knows how difficult the journey.

You are not alone.

His word says, “A bruised reed, he will not break.”
He will not crush the weakest reed. Is. 42:3

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Go to the quiet places with Him. Pour out your brokenness before Him and trust that He is making you whole.

“He went without comfort so you might have it.  He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.” Joni Eareckson Tada

Please know that God will redeem these very things that plague you. He will exchange the sufferings for better things.

Until the exchange, He offers hope. He offers joy. He offers Himself to you wholly.

“I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33
Hope does NOT disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  Rom. 5:5

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. vs 2

Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Hope does not disappoint. vs 3-5a

Praying for you today.  You are known and deeply loved.

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Grieving the Losses-This Season’s Struggle

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Spring is full of life and beauty, color and the richness of memories formed. Spring has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year and there are so many gifts of spring that bring delight. It has been many springs now that I have felt the effects of the spring pollen and as the lovely blooms and blossoms come into view my limitations increase, my fatigue overwhelms and the enjoyment is faded and blurry.

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It has been five years since my diagnosis.

It was Mother’s day morning. We had just come home from a lovely morning spoiled with love from my family and worship at church. I took a step into the house and I felt it, that strange, swelling feeling in my foot. I had felt it before, one of the strange symptoms that I had chalked up to allergic reactions of some sort.  As the day went on, the swelling increased and I began to feel more unstable as I walked. I used the stroller as a walker to get to our dining destination and by bedtime I was feeling anxious. When I got up to use the restroom in the middle of the night I could barely manage the walk. I had to hold on to the walls for balance. I knew we had to do something.

It was Tuesday, the 15th of May that I wobbled my way into ER. The nurses took me back immediately. They knew it was serious. Every ounce of me knew it was too. Once they talked to the Neurologist he was sure it was M.S. After an MRI and spinal tap the diagnosis was confirmed. I  have the auto immune disease,  Multiple Sclerosis.

This diagnosis has a link to Mother’s Day and thus every year as Mother’s Day draws near I feel melancholy. I feel a sense of dread. It certainly is not the day itself that I do not like. I love Mother’s Day! I have a rock-awesome husband and kids and they always lavish me with love on this special day and I am so thankful to say that I have my mama, my stepmom and mother in law still with us. I am so thankful for that. And yet, there is a grieving renewed in me every time this season draws near.

The grieving is the loss of the life I once knew and the picture in my head of the life I was planning to have.

Grieving is healthy. It is healthy to mourn and be aware of the loss in your life.  I am allowing myself the freedom to cry. I am allowing myself the freedom to wrestle with God just like Jacob did and David did over and over and over. It was in a similar season that David, the man after God’s own heart, had written to the Lord,

“My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!

For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing;

My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away……”

After wrestling with the Lord, speaking honesty and wholly with him, David says,

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’.

My times are in Your hand; deliver me……..

Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear you,

which You have prepared for those who trust in You…..

Blessed the Lord, For He has shown me kindness in a strong city!”

 

Have you grieved over your diagnosis?

Have you allowed yourself the freedom to grieve over circumstances that were out of your control and yet drastically effected your life and the ones you love?

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Please do so. Please give yourself quiet with the Lord to mourn and grieve and to allow Him to speak peace to your soul, kindness to your heart and wrap His loving arms around you.

Your story may be different than what you planned or thought it would be but God is still present and still working your story for a greater good. History is His-story. You have been written into His story and even when this broken world tears apart our plans, God still has us in His hands. You are loved with an everlasting love.

Below are words from a beautiful sister/friend of mine. She wrote them on my Facebook page the week of my diagnosis while I was in the hospital. These are for you too.

“… They say you have had this “condition” for many years. But, through all of those years you were unaware of it. And through all those same years you were labeled “Blessed” by God himself. Dear one, I am here to say, that nothing has changed. You are still labeled BLESSED! That is how you are known by all. You are not labeled by a medical term. You are Blessed. All that has happened is that something was exposed for God’s glory. His banner waves over you. He sings songs over you. He rejoices over you. Just as He did a week ago. A month ago. A year ago. Just as He will continue to. Love you.”

 

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Parenthood and Illness (Part 3)

Suffering and trial may be the greatest avenue of growth for us and our children. How we live through suffering teaches our children how to walk through their own pain.

Let’s be real. Sometimes our kids seem aloof to what we are going through, the amount of pain we are experiencing or the mental battle within but in the midst of their aloofness is a sense that something is not right. Most children are more aware of their parents than they reveal and they are always feeding off of our spiritual, emotional and physical state. Your pain effects your children. It hurts them too. They just don’t know how to communicate it to you.

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This is my first thankful journal. I started writing down my thanksgivings within months of my diagnosis. I am now on 4,104.

Let’s look at the very important role that you play in your children thriving and practical ways to do that while you walk through physical ailments.

First, praise Him today whether you are in a season of sunshine and rain or you are walking through the desert. God brings water in the desert. Gather your children and praise Him together. If you are in an incredible season of darkness it is so very hard to see light. Grab a jar and some paper or a journal and begin choosing to see things to be thankful for and write them down. Have your children look for the things they are thankful for too and have them add it to your list. It may be the butterfly that fluttered by or the food served at the table. Maybe it is the wiggle in your toe or the ability to smile and see. Start simple and choose thankful. It is contagious and your children will see God’s hands throughout day.

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Second, be honest. You are not fooling your children. They can see your body language and demeanor. They know when things are off but if we are not careful our children can take the blame upon themselves for how we are feeling or behaving. Especially a child who has experienced any type of trauma (small or large), he or she  can take your pain and your issues and believe that they have caused it in some way or another. We must communicate our love, appreciation and preciousness of the child often.

 

Piggy backing on the second, we must create  a safe environment, a place where each individual in the home is accepted as they are. Talk to your children, learn their needs and how to meet them. If you are limited in a physical capacity, you may need to have more assistance with the physical side of meeting the needs of your children but you can meet your child’s emotional and mental needs. You get to bring comfort and love to your children. Set your own aches, pains, and hurts aside to tend to the children entrusted into your hands. I know it is hard sometimes but in the long run  worth laying your life down for these babies of yours.

Fourth, choose your words carefully. This does not come easy to me. I love to talk and share everything on my heart and mind but God’s word warns us that “in a multitude of words, sin is not lacking.” Choose well. Speak words of life to your children. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 Let our words be uplifting. I don’t complain about my pain often but I have noticed that a few of my kids have said, “my legs hurt” when there wasn’t a legitamite reason for saying it. I do not find that a coincidence since that is the area I have the most pain. I find that they are hearing their mama say it and thus they believe their legs hurt. I have to remind my kiddos that they are healthy and strong and fully able. I have to remind them WHO they are and how capable they are.

Next and last for now, is our self talk. How are we talking to ourself? Our children will hear if we say, “Oh, good job, Charise, you messed up again. You can’t do anything right.” Or when we say,  “I will never be able to do>>>>>>> again.” And ” I am _______.”IMG_0264  Speak words of life to yourself and your children will see that too and practice it in their own lives. You have the power to speak life and and death. Speak life, live life full!

 

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The “Monster” May Not be So Bad

close up image of space trilogy book oneMaybe the monster in the water isn’t such a bad thing.

I have been chewing on C.S. Lewis’ words from the first of his Space Trilogy.  The main character was conversing with an intelligent being on another planet about a violent creature that lives in the water. The creature will demolish and tear apart anything that comes in its path. The human’s response was that there was no place for this monster and the “higher power” shouldn’t have made this creature or allowed it to be here for the sake of the good creatures. The intelligent being said the words that have had me mulling over and over and over, ” The hanakra (monster)  is our enemy, but he is also our beloved…………..I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lake”. 

No danger in the lake? Isn’t that what we want? No danger. No financial strain. No health issues. Nothing that shakes us.

What is the monster you are facing right now? There are so many options of monsters to choose from and each of them can devour us in one way or another. One way or another we can let anything swallow us up and spit us out.

But what if we chose to see the monster in a different light?  What if  we saw it as a means to reach a deeper love, cherish the people God has placed in our lives more fully, experience a more full enjoyment of the simple things, an opportunity to put the first things first? What if the very monster meant to destroy you by the Enemy could be used for your greatest purpose through God and His strength.

In Lewis’ wonderful, philosophical, fictional story the alien beings were trying to kill  the monster but they had a deep appreciation for it. They appreciated more because of “it”.

When our eyes are fixed on that which lies beyond this mortal earth and we live for God and eternity, couldn’t we see our circumstances in such a different light?

The enemy of our souls uses the “monster” to steal away our moments, our peace, and our joy. But when we are surrendered to God and dwelling in His presence, we have peace and joy and see the monster for what it really is. It has no power over you. The “monster” cannot take your JOY but joy can be found in the midst of places where “it” lurks.

God says to me and to you,
“I formed you. Fear not, I redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you, For I am the Lord your God……Fear not, I am with you.  ” Excerpts from Is. 43:1-5

His presence is enough for you. I am praying for healing for your body today. I am praying for Joy in the midst of your present circumstances.

P.S. I am resuming ‘Motherhood with an Illness’ next blog entry but I am going to broaden it to ‘Parenthood and Illness’. I realize I have amazing fathers who follow this blog too.

If you are not receiving this blog in your email, please put your info in  at the top right so you don’t miss any of my blog entries ( no worries-they will not daily flood your mailbox). Also, “like/follow” me on Facebook as well. We are in this together!

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Motherhood and Illness (Part 2)

Soak in the good days. It’s so easy to find the negative, the easy to complain about circumstances but choose to see the beauty and blessings today. Today is a grace day. A day to soak in the gifts of laughter, the gifts of a hug.

First thing in the morning, when my groggy self is confronted by my sweet children I choose to reach out and touch them. As explained in my last post, I am slow moving in the morning. I can also become a drill sergeant with the to do’s of the day but I have chosen to touch each of my children in a loving way each morning. “Good morning Son, how did you sleep last night?”, with a rub on the head or a squeeze hug.  To my little girl, I might tenderly move her hair from her face and pull her little body close to me to tell her good morning. This begins the day with my babies having their cup filled but it also helps me to keep the “right things” in focus. Loving my children is the greatest gift I can give them.

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I love touch. It is one of my love languages. But I do not enjoy it like I used to. My nerves do not send messages properly. So, while a child draws near or I draw them near for story time I may experience heaviness of my arms or legs, an ache that is heavy and painful. I have to adjust positions of how I sit or ask the children to change positions. I have to be honest with them that I want to sit close but my body is hurting the way we are sitting. I may have to ask them to hold the book or help me hold it depending on the size of the book and where we are sitting. The key with the kids is honesty. If I let them know I want to be near them but “let’s change how we are sitting because it is hurting me”, it helps them to know it is not their fault and that I want to be near them.

I have the same dilemma with my husband, who seems to naturally radiate warmth. I can only hold his hand so long before I have to release it and cool my hand. If we are sitting close to one another my legs feel like spiders are crawling up and down them. The Plexus Cleanse has helped me a lot. The magnesium in that calms my nerves but I still feel discomfort just from being close. I choose to be close still. I might get a cold pack or drink something cold to help calm the nerves so I can enjoy being near my loved ones.

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These discomforts, pain and irritations can easily become a focus but we have to choose to focus on the good. Although my hands are numb, I can still feel, so I thank God that I can feel. I thank God that I can cuddle and touch my children. I thank God with my children for all that I can do right now. When I could not walk well or barely exercise I spoke thanksgivings that I could move my foot and feel it move. When I got up on my own I thanked God that I could do that. When I agonizingly exercised for three minutes, I praised Him because I could. Choose thanksgiving and teach your children to praise God in the midst.

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Be honest with your limitations but choose to push against them. With chronic illness we can easily overdo ourselves so we must be wise but we also must choose the highest good. Choose to play that game with your kids. You might need to say, “Let mama take a nap first and then I will play that with you. Can  we make that a date? “.

Go outside with your kids and do what is within your limitations but soak in the fresh air, watch the butterflies and let them share their wonders with you. When your numbered days are over or your loved ones’ days are over, you won’t forget the time invested into loving them, choosing them, soaking in God’s creation with them. It will all be worth it in the end.

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I  know it is hard, my friend. It would be easier to wallow in pity for ourselves, hide away in our room and push everyone away but we do not need to lose heart. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” 2 Corinthians 4:16  Soak in God’s love for you. Let Him renew your mind and heart.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.”

Let’s choose that perspective. Let’s allow God to renew us inwardly day by day and live a fruitful life.

What are you struggling with today? Do you want to hide away?

Dear Friend, I am praying for you today.

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Motherhood and Illness (Part 1)

 

 

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Gardening requires toiling, digging deep, sowing, water, sun, air, purposeful planning and of course constant upkeep to rid of weeds and overgrowth. Motherhood is a lot like gardening.  I am still in the midst of digging deep and all the labor involved. Some day I will see the fruit of my labor. Some day I will see the blossoms fully sprung and the buds bloomed in all their glory. I am expectant for that day. So today, how do I do it with this illness? How do I remain strong when I feel like I have nothing left to give?

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I start each day warm from sleeping like a wrapped up burrito. This warmth makes me feel heavy and makes it hard to move. Some mornings, most mornings, I do not want to move. I do not want to get out of bed. I want to stay and sleep. for. just. a. little. bit. longer and just maybe all day. I lay there and talk to God, “Thank you for today. I do not know how I am going to do today or what I am going to face but please strengthen me and help me through. Please give me patience and grace for all that is set before me……”

I recognize my need for the living God to fill me and empower me. I always knew I needed God’s strength to mother well and even more grace and strength to educate my children at home. I knew I was desperate for Him to work miracles and now I am even more aware. My diagnosis came when I had four children ages seven and younger.  It seems so long ago but really it was only five years ago. I could barely walk and it hurt to stand for just a few minutes. I did not drive for nine months during that season. Our homeschooling was a lot of sitting and working on the couch or at the table. We rarely went anywhere. I was in recovery mode. I was building my strength back up and we took our time soaking in life at home.

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Today, I am able to drive and we are able to attend music lessons and physical fitness classes but each day looks different. Some days I am hobbling up to the door for lessons and other days I stride up without realizing I am walking descent that day. I give myself grace.  If my brain is a mess or my emotions unstable we have a lot of cuddle and read time. We are always reading at least one great book and so we brew hot tea (or cold depending on how I am feeling and weather) and throw together a- not-so-elegant snack and nibble away while enjoying adventures of old. Right now we are reading through C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, studying Bach by reading about his life and listening to his masterpieces,  walking through life stories of not-so-often-learned-about heroes in “Heroes Among Us” by Jim Runyan.

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I have learned that controlling every minute of the day does not produce peace in our home. We have loads of time for creativity and play time. We play music and worship when we have the urge and we sit and read when we need that. We have structured learning of many lessons but the key is letting the Holy Spirit lead my day. Some times I just need to walk away. I need to take a  break and rest. Sometimes, many times I need to send the kids out to play for a break.

I do as the Father leads and as I humble myself and allow Him to dance with me through the day I find that he multiplies my “fishes and loaves” and blesses the work of my hands.

What “gardens” has God called you to tend today? What labor do you feel unfit for?

God will “equip you with everything  you need for doing His will. ” Heb. 13:21

PS. This is the beginning of a series on Motherhood and Illness. Make sure you subscribe on my blog so you don’t miss any one of  them. 🙂

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One Thousand Gifts-Book on Sale

This book is life changing good. Ann Voscamp takes her readers through her own journal of trial and despair and then reveals how to see rainbows in the rain. I read this book within a few months of my diagnosis and it truly transformed my life and enabled me to walk through my trials with lighter steps. The E-book  is on sale for only $1.99 on Amazon. And if you are like me and love to have a book with pages in your hands, the Hardback is only $7.99. You will not be disappointed by this book!  Here is the link:

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God’s Heart toward You

God’s heart has always been to be with you.

He does not need you. He freely chooses you.

His communion with Moses in the dry of the desert sun-tabernacle full of glory. Son of God come in the flesh, God in our very skin to walk among us, to be with us- tabernacle among us. 

His intimate covenant with you and me, His blood shed for you and me, was it for His own fulfillment? His only reason was LOVE. He chose us. He loved us enough to want us to have whole hearted devotion to Him. And when we are wholly connected to the Holy God we are holy. We are whole. We are complete.

“Because I live, you also will live”, Jesus said. “I have come that you may have life, life more abundant!”

When the Son went to the Father, He did not leave us alone. He sent our Counselor to be with us forever. Forever. With. Us. The Spirit of truth. 

He does not leave us as orphans. He welcomes us and calls us His own, special, royal, BELOVED.

He loves to be entwined with you. The Vine and branch melding together and bearing fruit. Do you glimpse the intimacy of the Father God with you? You are His. You are loved.

Write this on your hands. Write it on your walls. Dry erase marker it to your mirrors. Drill this in your head until the lies of the enemy fade away.
You are loved. And you are enough because you are His. 

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Life is Messy

Life is messy.

Messy can be beautiful can’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to see. The mini Picasso six year old painting is beautiful. Bright orange seaweed tangled in bright green algae=beautiful.  Messy people that love in the messes=beautiful.

 

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My longing for order, for control, for keeping all things together can prevent me from experiencing the blessing waiting for me, the beauty waiting for me. The blessing doesn’t always come through wide, green pastures. It often comes through dark, narrow roads with a glimpse of light peeking through to guide. His tender hand guiding, directing through shadow filled badlands. Blessing comes through the messy.

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Moses didn’t want to speak to the Pharaoh.  He could speak. He just didn’t feel himself adequate enough to do what God was calling him to do. “Who me? I can’t do that. Don’t you know my disability, my lack of ability?” We make excuses and miss His power enabling us to do what He asks us and prepared us to do in the midst of what He has allowed.    The expectation Moses placed on himself was not what God had placed on him, but his own fallen perception of God’s role in his calling.  Focusing on the messy causes us to miss the masterpiece He is making.

The Israelites were scared to take possession of the land God had promised. The land was EVERYTHING that God had promised but there were giants in the land and they chose to focus on the giants. They chose to allow fear to keep them from trusting God’s promise and the blessing in His provision. They focused on the messy and missed out on the beautiful.

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God gives promises and sometimes we have to fight through opposition to fully enjoy the promise. Is it worth the fight? You bet it is.

There is always blessing and beauty on the other side.

 

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Quiet Dancing

The words dance in my mind and urge me to dance with them onto these pages, on this blog. I have been fighting against the dance. Heavy eyes and weary body, I have resisted sitting and pouring out my heart here on this endless outreach. Even now, I feel like I have so much to write but I feel stifled, muffled, held back. I am aching to pour out the ointment God has been so faithful to pour over me.

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In a world full of derision and anger, hostility and brokenness I keep hearing HOPE. “Hold Onto Hope”. The  family vacation isn’t my hope. The new home or the next plans for our family is not my hope. Jesus Christ the Righteous, He is my hope! In Him is refuge, fullness of joy, confidence. My mouth is full of His praise, because my life is perfect? My kids perfect? My marriage perfect? Not even close. I praise Him because He is perfect, perfectly loving and good, kind and patient with me knowing all of my imperfections and still loves me just the same. I hold onto hope that my friend “T” who is battling M.S. symptoms will fully regain her sight. I am believing it for life on earth and knowing it for eternity in heaven. HOPE. I am believing healing of my myelin sheath for this life and knowing it will come some day-HOPE.

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When we walk through storms and we keep our eyes on the Light House we come out the other side of the storm with powerful proclamation of  victory and we shine for the next generation walking at our heels, listening to our words and watching our every move. They will see our falls but they will also see us rise up and keep pressing on toward the prize. Hope.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Psalm 71: 18

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I recently read this quote by Mark Batterson, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, your dream is too small.”

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I am dreaming of big things. Things too big for me. Too big for someone with M.S. Too big for someone home educating four kids and fighting to do it well.  I am dreaming of BIG things, too big for me but NEVER TOO BIG FOR GOD. He is calling me, stirring my heart, calling me to a place of rest and renewal so that I can be poured out again. He. Will. Not. Forsake. Me. He will carry me into and through the lows and the highs, the storms, rains of refreshment, sunshine and desert. He will enable me to do what He has called me to do and I will know that it is not I who walked victoriously because of my might, no, it is all because of His might, His strong arms carrying me.

What is He calling you to do today, stirring up in you? What are the passions and dreams you have long suppressed? Rise up Dear One! He will carry you too.

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