Come on, Joy!

When I was in the hospital after having Lila, I noticed that the joints of my knees and hands were very achy.  It got worse as the days went by.

In later years, it would migrate- my back, my shoulders, my hips, my ankles…with it came achy, feverish type symptoms.  It came and went.  Was worse under stress.

I saw my family doctor, a rheumatologist…I had blood tests and exams and consulted Dr. Google constantly.

Many hypotheses have been formed.

1. Rheumatoid arthritis. For several years, the doctor felt it was this…even though it didn’t show up in my blood tests. It still could be, we’re just not sure and it still doesn’t show up in bloodwork. My symptoms always did fit this diagnosis and there is a percentage of people who have it without testing positive.
2. It’s related to the Vitamin D deficiency I have. This seemed very likely until I kept having flare ups even after being on megadoses of Vitamin D.
3. It’s related to Hashimoto’s disease. I was diagnosed with this in the fall. This seems somewhat likely, though the joint pain is an uncommon symptom.
4. It’s some kind of combination of the previous three or two of the three or something.
5. We just don’t know why my joints ache.

For five years, my joints have troubled me.  And this morning finds me stiff and achy…my shoulders and neck and hips and back especially.  I shuffle instead of walk, I can’t get comfortable.  I need a heating pad for every part.  I just want to stand in the hot shower all day long.   And, there’s something else…some kind of allergic reaction or who knows what…but I’m itchy…really, really itchy.

I feel pitiful and put upon.

But I have a new life now and I have learned that I must be thankful…even in literal suffering.

So, my joints ache and burn…my skin itches and crawls…but I give thanks.

290. My little girls hugging
291. The way Claire backs into her little Adirondack chair
292. Lila counting down the days until her birthday on Friday
293. The smell of whatever Deanna cooked this morning
294. The coffee my husband made me
295. My recliner
296. Aleve

My grumpy, pessimistic inner me protested when I said it was time to give thanks.  She whined and cried and said, “I’m not thankful for being itchy and in pain and with no relief in sight.”  But we persevered.  Counting joys, counting graces, being thankful.  Seven came easy and then even more…

297.  Claire dancing to the SpongeBob theme song
298. A sunnier day than yesterday
299. A ride for Julia to Newport News
300. Chatting with loved ones on Facebook

Because don’t we all know that practicing anything makes it come easier?  It’s the same with gratefulness.  The more I practice, the easier it comes.  And it doesn’t take the pain away, but it takes the pain’s place away.

The pain was winning.  It was the biggest thing I had going this morning.  Achy joints, itchy arms…they were my predominant thoughts this morning.  It was my focus.  I was impatient and sour and feeling sorry for myself.

Naming my joys took that place of honor from my suffering and gave it back to Him- the giver of all gifts.  I had to sacrifice- I had to give up the right to self pity, the right to wallowing, the right to grumbling and complaining.  I had to let that go in favor of the higher thing.

He is good, even in my suffering.  That part doesn’t change.  He is always good.  And this too shall pass.

Doesn’t Psalms 30:5 tell us so?  Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

He’s Not Finished With Me Yet

Sometimes, John and I talk about what wretched sinners we are.

It might seem like an odd topic of conversation but I like to think it helps keep us humble.  We know that we are not good, that we are simply sinners…that, like Revelation 4 says, we are miserable, wretched, poor, naked, and blind.  We need a Saviour.

This morning, I am exhausted.  I was up into the night with a sick toddler who really does not get “Throw up on the towel, baby.” and who kicks and flails and has the world’s sharpest elbows.  I woke up stiff and achy and as tired as I’d ever been.  My bleary eyed husband grimly drank his coffee and gathered his things to go to work.  I thanked the LORD that I am a stay at home mom and can be in my jammies all day long if I choose to be.

A four year old comes halfway down the stairs and says, “Mommy, can you come and get me?  My legs are still sleepy.”  She is peaked looking, glassy eyed and sad faced.  She says, “My tummy is really hurting.”

And so begins the marathon of caring for stomach sick babies.

Sigh.

My sister and my Lindsey put their heads together and figure out how all things are going to be handled today, shuffling responsibilities from my hands to theirs.

And now the morning is passing by fairly calm.  Claire is napping.  Lila is watching Rugrats.  I am soothing my backache with a heating pad.  And…it’s time to confess…I’m on Facebook.

Not long ago, I said I was taking a Facebook break.  I failed.

I have been in talks with my own conscience about whether or not I would bring it up here.  And what my conscience and I have finally decided is that I must share  my failure with my readers.

I must because, the point of this blog is to walk with other pilgrims on their journey.  I have committed in my heart to be real and to be transparent and authentic.  I can’t just share my successes and not also my failures.  I can’t just talk about my relationships with God and not sometimes acknowledge my own flesh.

The truth about me is that I’m not always strong.  I’m not always kind.  I’m not always gracious.  I don’t always love well.  Sometimes, I am judgy and sometimes I am mean and sometimes I am jealous and sometimes I am weak.

All I can say is that I’m trying.  I’m trying to let God flow through me and make me strong in my weakness.  Today, when I’ve felt overwhelmed, put upon, where I’ve compared….so far, I’ve asked Him for mercies for the day.  (It’s only 10:30, but it’s a start.  I’ve been up a long time.)  I so lovingly appreciate those who are standing with me through the journey.  There are not adequate words of love and thanks for those who’ve forgiven me when I’ve needed forgiving, those who’ve called me out when I’ve needed to be called out and those who’ve just helped me stop the bleeding of feelings when I’ve been hurt.

I’m not going to beat myself up about the Facebook thing.

Facebook was a good friend to me this morning.

I was able to solicit prayers for my two little patients.

I was able to thank the ones who are blessing me.

I was able to point out Christlikeness I’m witnessing in a friend.

I was able to ooh and ahh over a friend’s brand new baby.  Bella…beautiful.

In a few minutes, I’ll be able to post that I’ve written a new blog or go and see how many “Likes” the Joel2TwentyFive Facebook page has gotten.

Check it out.  And pray for this wretched sinner while you’re at it.

He’s Not Finished With Me Yet