Selfishness Shows Up

October started rough for our family. I’m still not sure that writing about specifically what happened is the right thing to do, so suffice it to say, I’ve never been more scared in my life, and I’ve never seen God move faster or come to my rescue more evidently, ever. (And I’ve seen God do some pretty cool stuff.) It is humbling to have a front row seat to a miracle of God – knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that no human power did the work He did.

Because of the rough start of our month, I have been deeply introspective, journaling a little (not enough, honestly) and trying to really determine how to use this situation as a launching pad to serve God more faithfully, allowing Him to change my heart and mind, and move me toward His purposes. He has guarded my heart from the deep guilt that paces the edges, the voice of the enemy trying to tell lies in the midst of our crisis. But God has been faithful every moment of every day.

As I’ve been looking inward and praying, I thought my parenting would be the first, and maybe only, area where I would see a deep need to be renewed and to pursue Jesus more faithfully. And without a doubt, I am working on some very specific things in my parenting. It would take more than a blog series to write about all of it. Some day, maybe, it will be part of a book. If I ever get around to writing like I should.

This particular revelation came as a shock to me. As I thought back on the roughest days, and the worst moments, I saw my own selfishness rise and rear its ugly head. Where I saw it the most, pains me to say, was in regard to my husband.

“Go get me … xyz.”

“Run back to the house for … xyz.”

Even the countless coffee deliveries – I never once said, “Will you grab my Mister a mocha?” It’s not like I can shrug and say I don’t know what he drinks.

Some of the memories of those days are cloudy because of everything that was going on, but I don’t think I ever said, “How are you?” “Are you ok?” “Are you holding up?” “What do you need?”

Despite his tough exterior and his desire to spend his afternoons in peace and quiet (which is laughable with 7 kids), I married a man who serves me in all ways. He always looks out for what I need, for how much rest I am getting, makes sure I get a shower, makes sure I am eating. He wakes me in the morning when I snooze the alarm, he reminds me to get to bed at a decent hour. His actions and words remind me daily that I am a priority to him. And then there are those moments that he whispers how beautiful I am and he completely takes my breath away.

Then there is me – I can’t remember to order his cheeseburgers without onions, don’t match his socks, don’t even think to request a mocha on his behalf.

If you had asked me in September if I thought I was a selfish person, I may have (pridefully…oops) said that no, I don’t think I struggle with selfishness. But now, I see it plainly, and I am clearly more selfish than I even realized.

With these realizations, I am humbled by the grace of God and the gift of Jesus. I am grateful that I get a new day to try again, that the people around me love me and support me, and don’t give up on me.

To my husband….I’ll be working on it. I am so grateful for the way you love me and the millions of small, often thankless, things you do for me. Thank you for being there for me and with me through thick and thin. I love you.

Until Next Time,
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September for Chiari Awareness

A few years ago, I joined a life group and met some really amazing people. People who are still my friends to this day. The leaders of the group have a darling little boy, and he has Chiari Malformation. When it first came up, I told them about my husband’s boss’s wife having Chiari, also. It deeply affected her life. I couldn’t help but to hope and pray that their little boy wouldn’t face the same symptoms that she faced, but the future was and is unknown.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost touch with Jimmy’s former employer and therefore his wife, too. I don’t know how she is doing, but I do think of her often.

In honor of my friend’s little boy and my husband’s boss, I often shared graphics and changed my profile picture in September. I knew Chiari was a huge part of their story – maybe not the biggest part, but a very real and serious part.

What I didn’t know was that on June 13th of this year, I would be sitting in a neurologist’s office, hearing that same diagnosis for myself. Multiple migraine types and Chiari Malformation I. After my MRI and reading the wording and googling it, I had my suspicions. My dear friend did, too. She was a light to me, always reminding me that Jesus is enough even when our health is faltering.

I was nervous, reserved even, what if it wasn’t Chiari, what if it was something else? I searched and searched for different explanations to “cerebellar tonsillar ectopia” but I always landed right back on Chiari.

I know God was working things out for me long before I was googling my MRI findings, and long before that neurologist confirmed the findings. I knew God put specific people in my life to help me walk through life and to keep me focused on Him. I am so thankful for His careful and thoughtful orchestration. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God afflicted me with Chiari. But I do know He is already in our future and aware of what is coming, and that He works all things together for the good of those who love and serve Him.

Chiari may be part of my story now, but it is not my whole story. Chiari may give me some really bad, really hard days, but it can’t take away all of the good that God has given me.

I will keep pressing forward, day after day, trusting God to work in me and through me, no matter how healthy or sick my body may be. And in September, I will share about Chiari, not only for me, but for all of the people learning to live with the challenges that come with Chiari.

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Help spread awareness for Chiari Malformation with this coffee cup from Amazon.

Do you have an invisible illness? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.

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It Changes Things

We all have moments in life that change things. Things that happen over time, or things that happen in an instant, but they change our perspective, our attitude, or even the entire course of our life.

I had one of those moments this year. After finally discussing with my doctor some of the things I experience that aren’t quite within the range of normal, she sent me for an MRI. I guess when I shared the reading with a friend, and googled some of the terminology, I realized what it said, but the truly defining moment happened with doctor officially said it:

Chiari Malformation I.

I told myself in the days following that appointment that learning I have Chiari changes nothing. I’ve had it my whole life, and our God is mighty and protective and He had carried me through all of the things that I’d done in life.

But the truth is, when she said to watch jarring or bouncing activities, and to be conscious of anything that could cause a brain injury, it really changed a lot of things.

In some ways, it feels like finding out I have Chiari changed everything. Some times it is empowering to be learning what can trigger my headaches (which she classified as migraines, but I still have a hard time calling them that). Some times it is disappointing to know that it’s not in my best interest to ride roller coasters or go sky diving.

I even drive differently. I’ve always been a cautious driver, but even more so now. I don’t want to find out what whiplash means to my brain hernia. I just don’t.

Having a name for it, really being able to tell myself there is a reason for the bad days has helped ease my guilt over those days – so just because naming it changed everything, some of those changes are good changes. Before I knew, I beat myself up when I couldn’t get something done, when the pain was too much, and I had to give in. I pushed through the bad pain days and didn’t give my body the rest it needed, which just resulted in worse days.

I’ve been actively working on giving myself permission to rest when I need it. To listen to the start of the pain, and ease up a little, slow down a little. It’s not easy, I’m a work in progress.

I’m also learning to rely on Jesus more and more. His strength is made perfect in my weakness and this isn’t permanent. This world is not my home and I know whether I see healing on this side of Glory or not, when I enter in to Heaven’s Gate to worship my God and my Savior, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more brain hernia.

One of my favorite things about this journey this year is seeing how God was working years ago, leading up to this point. He put some very specific people in my life to speak words of life, healing, and love over me and to me. He sent me friends that would point me ever toward Him, reminding me to praise, helping me see the good, lifting me up, and never letting me feel alone.

It’s a pretty big thing to say I learned my brain is falling out of my head this year, and to also be able to say, “But I haven’t felt alone on this road.”

I remember telling myself as I sat down in the seat of my car after my doctor’s appointment, “I’ll never write about this. It doesn’t get to change my writing. It doesn’t change anything.” Cue writer’s block, because writing is how I process life. So I’m writing about it, and I’ll mention it when it’s relevant I’m sure, but that’s not all I’ll write about. In fact, of all the things Chiari could change for me, it doesn’t take writing away, and that is a great relief to me.

Chiari wasn’t the first thing that ever changed everything for me, and I doubt it will be the last. It’s just the most recent, the thing that I’m learning about in this season of life.

Have you ever had a “changed everything” moment in life? Tell me about it in the comments.

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