I Can’t Stand to Look at Christmas trees – Don’t let the title fool you, I love Christmas!

I can’t stand to look at Christmas trees this year.

I love Christmas with all its twinkling lights, and the tree in my house has always been one of my favorite Christmas decorations. But this year because of my vestibular migraines the beauty of the lights within my Christmas tree’s branches feel like poison to my brain. All it takes is about 10 minutes of looking at or even toward a lit Christmas tree to wreck my whole day.

Before this Christmas I never knew there was a such a thing as migraines that you can’t feel yet will cause you to have to retreat from certain types of lighting, sounds, smells, and activity or you will end up with your head feeling like it’s pulsing and being pressed in from all sides, causing you to feel so dizzy you can’t think and want to puke your guts out!

I love our Christmas tree and love all its glitter and white lights and no matter how much it bothers me I insist on keeping it turned on every evening just as we always have.  But I haven’t been able to enjoy it this year and have been pretty much staying out of the room it’s in or I sit with my back to it.

To be honest, even though I’ve tried my best to be joyful this has really caused me a lot of sadness this year.

But then today I discovered something as I was passing through the room with the Christmas tree in it. As I was walking through the room I had my eyes averted away from the tree so as not to see it when suddenly they landed on our nativity set. The moment I saw it I suddenly realized that our nativity has a light in it and it’s always on every day all day AND this is the one lighted Christmas decoration that does NOT cause me to get nauseous when I look at it!

I found it very interesting that the one Christmas light in my house that I actually CAN look at is the one light that is shining over baby Jesus lying in the manger. Could it be that maybe Christmas is still Christmas even without a beautifully lighted Christmas tree?? Well of course it is! What really makes it Christmas is that Jesus was born on Christmas and the Christmas holiday is supposed to be a celebration of HIM. Jesus came to save the world on this day all those years ago and He is the one true light of the world.  This also made me think of the shepherds on their way to see him on that night so long ago when he was born. Under the cover of night, they were led by a bright shining star to a baby who was the very first Christmas gift ever given to us.

Just like God used the bright and shining light of my nativity to lead me to see him among all this junk I’ve been going through this year.

Jesus is what Christmas is really all about and with or without Christmas trees, Jesus will always be here.

I think not being able to look at my Christmas tree this year actually caused me to receive a very important gift.  The gift to see what’s truly most important – that Jesus is the only light I will ever need.

Without Jesus, there would have never been a Christmas in the first place. Jesus is the light of the world, and we ALL need him more than anything.

He is the greatest gift we have ever received.

 

 

Dear Readers,

My wish for you today is that your Christmas be filled with all of the joy, love, and peace that comes from Jesus. He is the one and the only true reason for the season may you see him as you go about your day today and every day. Have Merry Christmas!

Terri

My Plans Aren’t Your Plans But Are Your Plans Mine Even though They don’t Make Sense?

In order to stick with my plan of focusing more on God I knew something in my busy life had to go. One thing I knew for sure I needed to address was the fact that I had two jobs, Travel Agent and Secretary at my church.  Both were part-time and I liked both jobs but also knew that keeping up with both of them was becoming harder and harder to do. I really loved the travel job, plus it allows me the convenience to work from home but then, on the other hand, I loved the church secretary job too. Of the two Church secretary was my favorite plus being the church secretary also was the job that seemed to make the most sense if my goal was to be closer to God.

So I decided to give up the travel agent job and toward the end of last Spring, I began referring any new customers that I received to other agents and then I continued to service any existing customers planning to quit once they had all traveled.

My plan was now perfectly in place.

Without new customers coming in and only having to service existing ones the travel business had pretty much nothing much going on anymore that I had to do, so things seemed to be on the right track.

The last week of August was the first indication of the crumbling of my perfectly built plan when I had my first attack of vertigo.

By the end of November, my plan was in full crumbling motion.

Here is an excerpt from one of my previous blog posts to give you a little bit of an idea of what was going on – “It’s been really hard to keep going when it’s the normal activities in my life that are making me sick. I can’t watch TV, or be anywhere with fluorescent or LED lighting, or those new energy efficient light bulbs.  We changed all the lightbulbs in our house.  TV, I try to just listen but forget and find myself looking at the screen. I can’t get on my tablet for games.  Texting has pretty much become a thing of the past unless it’s a quick one. The sounds that bother me are weird. Things like soft sounds, like clicking or change jingling or certain voices.”

If you want to know more you can visit these blog posts:
Vertigo, Panic, and Feelings of Insanity
When the Struggle is Real Keep Going Even if You Have to Do it with Your Eyes Closed

Because most everything I do at my church job was on the computer I could barely do my secretary job. Add to that, I couldn’t think or remember things very well, plus I didn’t really feel comfortable being alone in the building because I was afraid I’d fall and no one would be there to help me.

Things eventually got to a point that my husband had to drive me almost everywhere I needed to go and some nights I didn’t sleep at all.  I could not plan anything especially getting up and going to work after I’d been awake all night.

I felt like I was living in a fog.

The hardest part of the whole thing is that I haven’t been able to go to church much either because we have screens for words to the songs and pictures, sound coming through a microphone, and colorful lighting on stage behind the Pastor.  All of that stuff is wonderful for a normal person but when you are having vestibular migraines it’s like being tortured. When I am there I feel as if I’m in a rocking boat and can barely keep my eyes open because the lighting and sound make me nauseous.  I’ve tried wearing sunglasses and earplugs but those only give minimal help.

I spent most of September, October, and November going to various types of doctors to get to the bottom of it all and trying my best to continue to work. Church services became hit and miss and turned into going when I felt good, but when I was there I would begin to feel terrible anyway.

Even though I love being the church secretary after a while I had to take off work and spent most of my time at home.

Even though its been a rough few months the weirdest thing has happened during this time. I have been learning HUGE stuff about myself and also about God.

The biggest thing I’ve realized is that no matter how much I may think I have my life planned out, it’s most likely not going to go my way…..Okay wait that’s not true,  I really have known forever that the most well-laid plans will usually not play out as I expect them to and for some reason I really have a hard time letting go of the idea that I am the one who is in charge. So really what I should have said there was that  the biggest thing I have realized is that GOD is in charge

Even though I love being the church secretary in the first week of December after much praying I realized that God wanted me to let the secretary job go. But then once I knew that God wanted me to resign it took me about a week to actually tell my boss I was resigning, That’s how tightly I was holding on.

While I was telling her I was quitting I had a hard time doing it without crying. When I feel uncomfortable or sad I tend to say stupid things to make myself laugh even though most likely they aren’t funny. I am not sure why I do this and can’t remember if I did it or not when I quit but I do remember catching myself rambling on and on before hanging up the phone.  But then the strangest thing happened after I hung up…Peace.

And peace has been what I’ve felt ever since that moment.

God had shown me that just because I want something that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is really mine to have. He has also shown me that when my hands are closed because I’m hanging on tightly to things that aren’t meant for me then I can’t receive what he is trying to give me that IS meant for me.

So now I am in the middle of God’s plan which wasn’t what I had planned but it really does feel good to be on the same page with him.

Another thing I have realized in all of this is that I don’t have to be in the church building to be close to God. Okay, I did already know that too that but for some reason, the truth in that statement has hit me harder now that I can’t be there all the time.

God is everywhere and if I seek him, I am sure to find him, no matter where I am.

I still ask questions like – “Why am I here stuck at home?” or “What is my purpose in all of this?”

But then I also realized that even though I gave all my travel customers away I had never totally quit that job.

God never planned for me to quit being a travel agent. That was all me on that decision and  I have now decided I am going to take the next customer that calls because for now, it still fits in with his plan whether it does or doesn’t make sense.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking out the window the man who lives across the street came out of his house and walked down the street. Almost every single day he walks down the street at about the same time and then later in the day he comes back home at the same time again. I am pretty sure he is walking to his job. On that day I suddenly felt the urge to pray for him and then a few minutes later someone else came out of their house and I had that same urge to pray fpr them. A few hours later it was the mailman and then the lady next door. The urge to pray kept coming up for every person I saw out the window all day that day.

I can’t explain how I feel about this other than to say that it does feel as if it is important for me to continue to do this when I see someone outside.

So I guess that is one of my new jobs now.

Jeremiah 29:11 says –  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I know for a fact that God does have a plan for me and right now I am smack dab in the middle of it whether it makes sense or not.  I also give up on trying to perfectly orchestrate what seems to make the most sense to me and I will just go with God’s plan. I know from experience that His plan always seems to go a whole lot smoother.

As far as my sickness goes, so far we have not found anything for certain that caused these vestibular migraines to happen just a lot of what triggers them.  I have started taking a low dose of Propranolol which is supposed to make them not happen as much. I have noticed that over the past week I am feeling a whole lot better and not having as many of the episodes plus I am also able to ditch the sunglasses in brightly lit rooms.  I did still have to put in earplugs at church last Sunday to quieten the sound and I did still get dizzy but it wasn’t as severe as it has been.

I think the medicine is working! Yay!

 

Amazon Smile for Smiles

Help bring more smiles to these Kiddo’s faces by shopping with AmazonSmile this Christmas.

Did you know you can shop and Amazon and at the same time help children in need?

It’s so easy!

All you have to do is add the word ‘smile.’ in front of the normal Amazon web address, (smile.amazon.com), choose Compassion International as your charity, do your normal Christmas shopping, and then when you are finished shopping Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to Compassion!

How AWESOME is THAT?!

 

I am Chosen and So ARE You

 

What does it feel like to not be chosen? Or how about being chosen last?

How about picking teams in gym class when you were a child in school?

Were you the person who was chosen first? Or were you always chosen last?

When I was a child my family wasn’t much into sports. We didn’t play sports or watch them on TV and we didn’t go to football or baseball games either. I also didn’t have an athletic bone in my body or really even care to have an athletic bone in my body.

Because of my lack of athletic abilities, I was pretty much guaranteed to be chosen last in gym class for any type of team sport game.

Here’s a classic example of what usually happened when I played team sports.

I was in 5th-grade gym class and kickball was the game.

Most days when we played kickball and it was my turn, I would kick the ball and someone from the other team would catch it right away causing me to never make it to any base, I was usually an easy out.

This day was a little different though.

This day I actually kicked the ball so high that it went soaring over everyone’s heads into the outfield.

I was horrified.

Why was I horrified you ask?

Because I never got this far in a game so I wasn’t for sure what I was supposed to do next! Everyone on my team was yelling, “run! run! run!” So run is what I did. I ran as fast as I could go to first base, but I didn’t stop at first. When I got to first base I’d heard the kids yelling and clapping so I decided I would keep going. I finally stopped on second base.

I was so happy!

But that happiness was very short-lived when my teammate who was ALREADY on second base said, “What are you doing?! Go back to first base, you dummy!” just as someone from the other team threw the ball at me and yelled, “Out!”

By now the kids on the other team were laughing at me and my own team was super angry with me.

I really had no idea as I’d rounded first heading for second that two people weren’t supposed to be on the same base together. I was so embarrassed that I just wanted to melt into the ground and be invisible for the remainder of my school life!

As you can see sports were not my thing and if I could have had it my way, I would have been perfectly happy to have skipped the whole gym class thing. Had there been a reading team or and art team those would have been the teams for me.

Not to sound braggy but I may have even been the first pick for an art team or some sort of speed reading team.

The funny thing is… well… actually the not so funny thing is… that I never saw that I had an art talent as a child.  All I could see was the fact that nobody ever chose me to be on their team because I was terrible at sports.

Ephesians 1:3-14 says that we were chosen by God.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen,[d] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purposeof his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritanceuntil the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV

It doesn’t say we were chosen because of our talent, our knowledge or how good we are.

What it does say is that He chose us long before He created the World and He chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight.  He predestined us for a relationship with him through JESUS!

How cool is that?? We don’t have to be good at anything at all. Because WE were already CHOSEN! Can you believe it God chose each one of us because he wants us on His team?

In the world, we live in its easy to focus on what we are not good at instead of what we ARE good at. We tend to focus on what our friends are chosen for when actually God gave us each our own special talents to use for what he chose US for.

God doesn’t want me doing things just because other people do them or like other people do them.  He chose ME to be me and I am good enough because he says I am already on the team. And what he gave me is what I will use to play the position he chose me for.

The same also goes for YOU.

You’ve already been chosen to be on ‘Team Jesus’.

So what do you say? Your spot is open waiting for you to fill it, nothing else required except that you believe in Him.

God chose YOU!

YAY TEAM!

 

 

Winter is Here!

You never know what you’re gonna get as far as the weather is concerned in Missouri.

The unusually hot weather we had most of September and October led me to believe that Fall was never actually going to happen this year.  But then at the end of October, the tree leaves had finally started to turn which is really late in the season for us.

We then had about  2 weeks of cooler weather and now today I wake up to SNOW!

YAY!

I love how the leaves in our yard are still a mix of 3 seasons right now.  One tree still has full green leaves on it, another is bright red with Fall leaves, and lastly, we have another that has lost all of its leaves. I guess that barren tree along with the snow means that Winter is going to, has actually arrived.

BOO!

I’m not really a winter person, but if we have to have Winter then bring on the snow because I really do love the snow.  I just wish the temperature could be just a teeny tiny bit warmer when it snows… Okay, make that a LOT warmer 😀

The Sound of Your Voice

Love Letters 2 Jesus

There’s something about the morning that makes me feel at peace. The promise of a do-over, a fresh start, an opportunity to learn to breathe again. The dawning of a new day says peace to me. Thank you, Lord, for the soothing softness that comes with the morning, A soft whisper as the first ray of light slips up over the edge of the dark. It’s your voice.

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When the Struggle is Real Keep Going Even if You Have to Do it With Your Eyes Closed

I leaned down to pick up what I thought was trash on the floor.

“Even when we are struggling God can still use us” were the words written on the paper.

Struggling

Lately that’s all I seem to be doing.

I can’t look at the screen as I type this, or it will send me into a swirling mess. Like I’m stuck on a merry-go-round. I also now have a Heavy head, with brain fog, and a lot of anxiety.

Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy.

I never know when I will be sick.  I could be fine and then 5 minutes later I’m in a fog.

I could be sick for a few minutes, hours, or all day.

I keep praying for God to take this away, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The only change is things just keep getting worse and I’ve found out I am a failure at staying in an MRI machine.

3 doctors to just be sent right back where I started to my general practitioner was really upsetting.

On Monday I was told I needed to see a neurologist or maybe even a psychiatrist wow now I’m not the only one who thinks I am crazy.

I started with the neurologists my GP gave me, Doctor ‘Quackquack’ and the one who’s supposed to be awesome. I didn’t call Dr. Quackquack.  My call to Dr. Awesome’s office was met by voicemail telling me to leave my name and number and they would call me back.

They didn’t call.

I tried to find more neurologists in my area but only could find pediatric neurologists.

I felt so hopeless.

Hopelessness isn’t something I usually feel. It’s a pretty foreign feeling for me and I can’t tell you how much I really hate the feeling

But then on Wednesday God gave me something that totally brought my hope back.

Dr. Awesome’s name had kept coming up all week and that day I kept feeling this urge to try to call him again.  So I did call him again and this time someone answered the phone! She said there were no appointments available until March…

Feeling defeated I started to hang up while saying a prayer in my head, “God please I need your help with this!”  I kid you not, the next words out of her mouth were – “you need to be seen right away, can you be here tomorrow morning at 8:45?”

Fast forward – the doctor was really great and we now have a partial diagnosis, brain stem migraines with aura. Even though I don’t feel the pain from the migraines, I still feel the effects of them.  He told me I am NOT crazy, and that no physiatrist is needed and that what I am feeling is real.  He also said I do have to get that MRI though, so we can see what the reason is for the migraines. He also told me the migraines are brought on by things like screens from phones, computers, lighting, sounds…. pretty much all of my normal life stuff.  He gave me a prescription for a medication that will hopefully help stop them from happening.  I should know if it works by the end of next week.

Yesterday was a better day, but then last night I had nightmares all night.  I woke up this morning feeling as if a dark cloud is hanging over me. It’s like no matter how many times I feel up this just keeps knocking me down. I wanted to stay in bed but I forced myself to get up.

No matter what I gotta keep getting up.

It’s been really hard to keep going when it’s the normal activities in my life that are making me sick. I can’t watch TV, or be anywhere with fluorescent or LED lighting, or those new energy efficient light bulbs.  We changed all the lightbulbs in our house.  TV I try to just listen but forget and find myself looking at the screen. I can’t get on my tablet for games.  Texting has pretty much become a thing of the past unless it’s a quick one. The sounds that bother me are weird. Things like soft sounds, like clicking or change jingling or certain voices. I had to give up my job for now because I can’t do it because Its pretty much all computer work.

The good in all of this is if I stay away from all of those things, I feel pretty okay.  So now I am doing things to occupy my time that actually are more meaningful than hanging out on Facebook (sorry Facebook).  I actually talk to people on the phone or in person now.  If I walk or exercise, I actually feel normal which is kinda strange. So now I walk and walk and walk.

Maybe all of this is my wakeup call to get back in shape and actually do life the old-fashioned way.

The thing that bugs me the most in all of this is I work in a church.  I have known since I began the job that God put me there so why is this stuff happening that makes me have to not work there?  I realized last week when I stepped away to get well that for now that is really what he wants me to do. Step away and get well.  For a long time now, I have known that God wants me back at this blog and a few other things but I never had much time before the write the blog, but now with no job and no other things to distract me I have a lot of time to write.  BUT –  I can’t look at the computer screen now. Plus, I’m really not sure what to write about.  I feel as if I have words, but most are hard for me to share publically.

I started writing this today because of the paper I found on the floor  reminded me “Even when we are struggling God can still use us.”  I have no idea when I wrote that.  It was just written on the back of an old grocery list and laying on the floor like trash, waiting right where God left it for me to find today. So as I sit here with my eyes closed typing this story (yes they are closed) I realize that right now in my life the struggle is real but God still can use me.  I really don’t get why it always comes back to this blog but God wants me to do it so guess if you are reading this then I did it.  I won’t be editing the mistakes though.

I hope if you are struggling today with anything you know that God is real and he is right there with you during your struggle too. Take the moments you have and make the best of them and let God use you during them.

It may not make sense but do it anyway.

Since I was a child I have always stuck to the motto ‘where there is a will there is a way’. with that being said remember this –  If you have the will but its still hard do, do it anyway.  Even if you have to close your eyes. God is with you even in the struggle and he will help you.  You may get knocked down but no matter what you gotta keep getting back up.