Never Ending Winter

 

This Winter season has been extra long for me this year.  As many of you know I had a weird illness since September that caused me to be dizzy and to have to stay home and not able to do much of anything. On top of the illness our winter in Missouri, this year was brutally cold with lots of snow, ice, and long dreary gray days.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was beginning to think I may never see warm sunny weather again!

To catch those up who don’t know about my life over the past year here is a quick run-down : In February 2017 my husband and I paid a large sum of money as a down payment to a roofing company to put a new roof on our home. The roof was supposed to be put on in March of that year.  March came and went but there was no roof put on and the company was ignoring our calls and if they did answer they would put us off.  In May I finally canceled the roof because I felt like they were scamming us and never going to put the roof on.  June, July, and August were spent trying to get our money back from the company and then paying ANOTHER roofing company in August to put on the roof.  The first company never gave us our money back and in August the new company installed our roof. Also in August – my husband filed in small claims court against the first roofing company to try to get our money back. September – my husband and I went to small claims court and were met at the judge by an attorney for the roofing company who asked to have the case moved to trial by jury and filed a third-party petition against me for slander against the roofing company because I had contacted the Better Business Bureau, the state Attorney General, and wrote review about them on Angie’s list in the attempt to get our money back.  The roofing company took our money, never gave us a roof, but now they were suing me for $25,000.00!  It was around that time that I one day while I was at work I was suddenly hit with dizziness that felt as if the whole room was spinning so bad I may fall off the Earth.  From that day on I was dizzy almost every day of my life and spent several months going to doctor after doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  What had started as dizziness soon progressed to sound and light sensitivity, and I could not do anything with a screen such as computers or TV. I had memory issues, panic attacks, and soon even depression. If you can name it, I pretty much had it.  I ended up having to quit my job because I was too sick to do it plus my husband had to drive me everywhere, I went because I couldn’t drive because I was dizzy. If I had a good day and did go anywhere then I would get carsick or if not carsick I’d be worrying that I might become dizzy.  It got a point that I couldn’t even go to church on Sunday’s because the music and the stage lighting caused me to be dizzy.  I will stop here because it just suddenly dawned on me that my ‘brief rundown’ has turned into a full-blown story in itself.  If you’d like to read the much longer version, I did write a few blog posts about my illness this past winter which can be found hereVertigo, Panic, and Feelings of Insanity, When the Struggle is Real Keep Going Even if You Have to Do it with Your Eyes Closed, My Plans Aren’t Your Plans But Are Your Plans Mine Even Though They Don’t Make Sense?

Between the illness, being sued, and all the dull grey days of Winter this was probably one of the coldest, darkest, and longest seasons in my life I remember ever having.

Before all of this craziness happened, I led a pretty busy life and I always considered myself a pretty happy person but now looking back I can see that I was probably not as happy as I led myself to believe I was.  I was always rushing here and there and was always feeling overwhelmed with all the things I had to do but never doing much of the things I wanted to do.  I now can see that the things I wanted to do were things that I had been putting on the back burner that those things were truly important for my own well-being.  My job for instance – I was in the church building every day but I know now that I was actually pretty far away from the church on other aspects. Meaning my relationship with God. I know that sounds weird to say but now looking back I can see that needed to step back away from church in order to actually see just how far away from God I had moved.

Before I was ‘stuck’ at home I never had time to just calmly sit and read my Bible. My prayers were rushed more like a checklist and I barely journaled anymore because I just didn’t have the time. It was like my spiritual life only happened when I could fit it in.  Ya I know you can read my blog post where I always mention that but oddly even though I figured it out several times I never actually followed through with what I had learned until I was ‘forced’ into having the time to follow through. Bad… I know but now I do follow through … most of the time.

This past Fall and Winter has probably been one of the longest, coldest, darkest seasons I’ve been through physically and mentally in a very long time but all seasons do come to an end and even though I had small glimpses of sunshine here and there throughout the winter it wasn’t until about February that I started seeing the large rays beginning to shine through and this time they actually began staying.

My time stuck at home had given me a whole lot of time to begin connecting with God on a deeper level and also I was feeling a little better physically.  The dizzy spells were becoming less and less and I know my triggers that set off the dizziness now with stress being one of my big ones. Looking back, I can connect the whole roof scam and being sued by them as probably my breaking point and what set this whole illness off.  I have always been a stuffer of my feelings most of my life. Never telling people when I’m sad or upset and I usually just go about my days clinging to the good stuff and not paying much attention to the bad.  Now I can see that the bad I’d been stuffing finally caught up with me.  A person can’t stuff those feelings down inside without finally running out of room inside to stuff them and I think maybe I just broke because I was too full.  Through all of this, every doctor kept telling me I needed to get the stress out of my life but really how do you do that when it’s coming in from places you can’t stop??

I think it’s more in how you deal with stress is how you remove it from your life. Don’t stuff it inside where it can’t be dealt with or it will eventually end up eating you alive.

From where I sit now I can finally see that good stuff can be found even on a bad day but it is okay to acknowledge when things aren’t going so great. I realized now that it really is okay to be not okay.

During this season of my life, I have also learned to say no.  I have learned that if someone gets upset with me for saying no then that’s their problem, not mine. Also, now that I have said no a couple of times, I have realized nobody was upset with me anyway. HA 😊

I can see now that quitting my job was a good thing too.  I still love my church and of all the jobs I’ve had in my life being the church secretary was my all-time favorite.  So, when I say that quitting the job was a good thing, I know it probably makes no sense to anyone else except for me. But the best thing I have noticed is that now when I am at church, I am there for one thing only and that is God 😊

Also, I’ve realized that I’d been neglecting the things God called me to do.  Write my blog, finish the book I started and rekindle family and friend relationships that I’d let drift away because I didn’t have time.

Over the past month, my new neurologist has started weaning me off the medicine that another neurologist had given me for the brain stem migraine diagnosis. His plan was to start me on a different medication that has fewer side effects but as time has gone on, I’ve started feeling like my old self again so I haven’t had to take the new medication. I feel like I am finally waking up from this nightmare I’ve been stuck in and now that I am waking up when I look back and can see that October through January is one giant blur to me.  I never realized when I was traveling through it all just how dark my winter season really was and to be honest, I was worried that it was never going to end but the best thing in all of this was Jesus. He was always with me the whole time and no matter how bad I’d feel he kept pushing me forward. Making me get up out of bed in the morning when I didn’t want to get up. Sending close friends to check on me at just the right moments. He kept nudging me to read my Bible and he was the one with me on the nights I couldn’t sleep.  He pushed me forward toward springtime and on those days when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore he carried me.

Be still my heart… His love for his children is a love like nothing else. I was the one in one hundred and he came looking for me.

The roof stuff is still happening but, as far as my health goes I feel like I’m on the upside. I can feel the warmth of Springtime outside but most importantly I feel the warmth inside of me once again.   I know that this long dark Winter season is finally coming to an end and like the rays of sunshine in Springtime make the flowers bloom, I can feel God’s love for me cracking away at the icy chill of this long winter season so that I to can now bloom once again.

Taking the Leap

I have 3 grandsons. The two older boys are close in age, 7 and 8, and the youngest is 3.  Whatever the two oldest boys are doing the little one is not far behind trying to keep up.

A few weeks ago, as they were leaving my house, my daughter opened the door for them to go to the car the 2 older boys sprang out of the door like they had lightning bolts on their feet. For one split second, the youngest had a bit of worry on his face quickly replaced by determination as he leaped into action and began running to catch up with his older brothers.

Even though he is the little guy his split decision to leap into action left me realizing that to him his size didn’t matter, and he wasn’t going to let anything stop him from keeping up with his older brothers.

He had complete faith that he had what it took to keep up with the big guys.

Wouldn’t it be great if we adults had that sort of faith?

I think our years of getting knocked down by life sometimes stops us from trying out the harder stuff.  Sometimes we even freeze up on the stuff God asks us to do to, never taking a leap of faith to trust him to give us what we need to accomplish it.

In my grandson’s case when mom saw the older boys running ahead, she told them to wait, meaning for them to wait for her, but in the second that they waited little brother was able to catch up. He didn’t care that mom making his older brothers wait was the reason he’d caught up. All that mattered to him was that he was right beside the big boys and his little face was beaming with joy to show that he was now a part of the big boy club even though he was just a little guy.

What would it look like if we adults had that same kind of faith like a child? What would it feel like to be presented an opportunity by God to do something harder than we think we have abilities to do and then we then took the leap of faith and we succeeded?

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Think about this – What joy are you missing right now because you are afraid to take that leap?

 

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

Double Drive-Thru Cheater

Let me set the stage –It’s 8:30 am – There are about 8 to 10 cars in the McDonald’s drive-thru line and the line is so long it’s partially sticking out into the street.

The line is a single file line with everyone heading towards the order speakers.  Right before you get to the speaker is the split, which is the place where the next car in lines driver gets to make the decision of whether they are going to take the left speaker or the right speaker to place their order.

Everyone has been waiting a long time but still, everything seems to be going smoothly the cars are moving slowly forward with each driver taking their turn filtering through the speaker split and working their way through the line to the prize of their morning cup of coffee.

And then she happens….

I’m pretty sure you’ve met her before – The double drive-thru cheater seems to magically appear out of nowhere.  Like a thief in the night, she slides her car down the side of the line and with perfect timing she slips right in front of the person at the split, stealing the outside speaker lane and making herself the next person in line to place her order.

Did I mention its early and that nobody in line has had coffee or breakfast yet?!

By now we can all see what she has done and I’m pretty sure we all want to honk our horns and roll down our windows and let her know that she isn’t supposed to be next in line!

I personally had a million things going through my head that I wanted to share with her.

“Lady can’t you see this long line of people hanging out in the road???… are you blind???… or maybe we are all invisible??”

But I didn’t say anything but I do think for a few moments I may have seen steam billowing out of my ears.

Was she really so naive that she didn’t realize she had butted in line or worse yet was she really just that rude??

I know to you this probably sounds like a pretty minor frustration and you are right it is pretty minor, but for some reason, the double drive-thru cheating thing is one of those things that really…really get under my skin and it seems to happen to me a LOT.

In the whole scope of things, I do know that it’s really not that important that I get my coffee 2 seconds sooner (though it did give me something to write a blog about today  😀 ).   And Yes, the drive-thru cheater was still rude to butt in line, but it would have been a whole lot worse if I’d have made the choice to make a total idiot out of myself by saying something rude to her.

So, for that day the choice of a great day was chosen!

As far as the double drive-thru cheater goes – she will probably always get under my skin in some way BUT, thankfully I get to be the one to choose how things go from there.

So how about you? What gets under your skin? When it happens what will you choose?

Chose to make today a great day! 😊

Thanks for reading!

Terri

P.S.  I drew a little picture at the beginning to help you get a visual of all of this … If your eyes are hurting now please remember I never claimed to be an artist  😊😊 😊

Connected 24-7 Isn’t Good for Me

Connected 24-7 Isn't Good for Me astorybyme.comA few weeks ago my husband and I were in a restaurant and one of us asked the other if we were ‘checked-in’ yet.

A couple of seconds later I found myself taking a picture of our food and checking us in on Facebook and also on Instagram. It was only a couple seconds after the ‘check-in’ that we had our first ‘like’ and also a few comments.  We then ate our dinner and I spent the next hour or so replying to the comments on our check-in via my cell phone.

In the middle of all this, the thought suddenly occurred to me that something felt really wrong with this scenario.

That thought seemed to plague me for the rest of the week.

The more I thought about it the more perplexed I became. I found it strange that 9 years ago checking into a restaurant meant something totally different to me.  Back in those days (gosh I think I may be sounding old now) checking in at a restaurant meant that we would have told the host or hostess we had arrived so that we could be seated.

How did we go from checking in to be seated to checking in on social media and sharing our date with the world?!

And why on earth am I sharing a picture of my food with people?!!

My ‘check-in’ now seemed kind of silly and it also felt as if it were nothing more than a big giant brag.

“Oh look at what I am having for dinner!… its too bad you can’t be here with us…oh but wait, you are sorta-kinda here now!…well only virtually… and guess what?…now we’re texting with you on Facebook instead of talking to each other.”

Wouldn’t it have been much more fun had we had just kept our date to ourselves or better yet – how about if we’d had a bunch of our friends with us in-person around the table enjoying that dinner with us?!!

Over the last week, I’ve also compiled a list of what I have observed about social media that bugs me:
-We can soft focus our wrinkles and shave off 10 pounds.
-The sky can be a little bluer and the flowers a little brighter.
-We can crop out the stuff we think is not so attractive
-And we can always put on our happy faces.

But the truth is all the happy faces in the world on social media has nothing on a good old fashioned face to face conversation.

Real life just isn’t as perfect as it may seem on social media but the truth is I actually think I like it better not so perfect and with real live people close beside me.

I know it sounds as if I hate social media, which isn’t at all true.

Social media can be a good thing too. I love the fact that I am able to connect with friends and relatives that live far away that I may have never connected with again or have never even met if not for social media.  I love that I can have a glimpse into the lives of my cousins and old school friends and I absolutely love seeing pictures of their kids, grandbabies, and vacations.

The truth is I even enjoy the check-ins of my friends and yes even their foodie pictures!

I think what I discovered is that for me personally, I don’t think its so good to have that connection going 24-7.

About a week ago I made the decision to take a few social media apps off of my PHONE.  Not all of them, mostly just the ones that I feel the urge to look at all day long or post to when I am out enjoying real life. I then decided that when I use those forms of social media I will just sign in online via my computer or tablet for a few minutes each day so that I can catch up with those people I can’t see in my everyday life.  From now on I am going to put away my phone so I can give my full attention to those people who are here with me in-person.  I also want to call more and text less and invite people to lunch or dinner with me instead of scrolling through Facebook while I eat lunch alone.

Real-live-up-close-in-person experiences are what I am aiming for and hopefully, that’s what those people I’m closest to will want also.

The Time I was Given Salvation, but Decided to Give it Back

 

I never went to church as a child or adult other than occasional visits. When I was in my late 20’s I had been attending a church for a few months and one day I found myself walking down the aisle during a church service because I had just given my life to Jesus. I didn’t really understand the whole, ‘give your life to Jesus’ thing other than I knew that I had just been ‘saved’ and I was excited and happy about it!

Shortly after I was saved I was informed that because I was now saved, I could also become a member of the church. I hadn’t even realized until that moment that I wasn’t already a ‘member’ of the church.  I also soon found out that but there was a catch to being a member of the church.

To be a member of the church I had to be baptized.

I was still pretty new to all of this, and getting dunked underwater in front of everyone seemed horrifying to me. I really wanted to be a member of the church but did NOT want to get baptized!

And to make matters worse someone told me that if I didn’t get baptized then I couldn’t get into heaven!

Being saved by Jesus had somehow now turned into me freaking out about church membership, baptisms, and getting into Heaven.  None of this stuff had even been on my mind when I had asked Jesus to come into my life.

If this was what being saved felt like, I didn’t want to be saved anymore. I had felt a whole lot safer before the whole saving ordeal had happened!

Oh and also now added to the pot was this — my 7-year-old daughter had also been saved in Sunday school and she was scheduled to get baptized with me. The pressure was on and there was no way I could back out!

So the baptism happened and the joy I had felt at the beginning about being saved by Jesus was now lost under a huge weight.

Not only was the robe they made me wear to be baptized in heavy material that when wet made me feel as if I were coming out of the water with a couple of bags of rocks attached to my back.  But it added to the fact that I now felt weighed down with the overwhelming task I had in front of me to keep it together. I felt like a fake and knew I had to be good so as not disappoint God or anyone in the church.

After I was baptized I barely went church anymore. I felt like a huge failure and I eventually walked completely away from church.

The worst thing of all is that I also walked away from God. I felt like somehow I had been part of some crazy bate and switch scam and I decided that God wasn’t real.

I stayed that way many years but then I saw my father-in-law die and that was the day I met the real Jesus once again.

As my father-in-law took his last breath his face suddenly became peaceful, I can never begin to explain what happened, except that God let me see my father-in-law as he was entering his new home in heaven and the peace surrounding him felt as if it were surrounding me. There was this overwhelming feeling of peace and love and it felt like it was all put there just for me to grab hold of.  I remember going home that night with the loss of a loved one, yet I felt like I had gained something huge I knew at that moment that God was real and that He truly loved ME! Unconditionally.

I had been told by well-meaning Christians my whole life that I should go to church and somehow I had grasped on to the idea that if I didn’t go to church I wasn’t good enough for God.  I also thought I had to be good when just being who I was was good enough.

A hospital room at one of the darkest times of my life is where Jesus came and got me. For no other reason than because, He loved me… just as I was. There wasn’t a church building or baptism required to be a member of his family and the only strings attached were for me to believe in him and come into his arms.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Being saved by Jesus means that Jesus loves me so much that he gave up his life for me so I don’t have to be perfect.

The gift of Salvation is a God’s gift to ALL of us.

His gift is for any of us to take no matter who we are or where we are in life. It doesn’t have to be opened in a church building and we don’t have to be a member of anything to receive it. Once we accept it we are part of the family and will live in Heaven with him one day

I did eventually find a church that I now call my church home and I did even get re-baptized when I felt led by Jesus to do it not because I was forced to do it.

I love Jesus and the family of believers he has placed in my life and it’s good to have those people in my life because they help make that connection to Him even stronger. We worship together and learn about him together. We even help lift each other up in our times of struggle. So a church family is a good thing to have.

I did not share this story to condemn any church or denomination,  I shared it because I have met up with several people now who have had this same experience as me. I want others who read this to know that no matter who you are or where you are at you can come to Jesus just because He loves you and wants YOU right where you are.

If you already have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation that is awesome! If you want to share it with others and you are attaching strings to it, please stop doing that!

‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’ John 3:17

 

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me

He loves ME

ME

JESUS loves ME

JESUS LOVES ME!

Now you say it

Jesus loves me

Now believe it

Jesus loves ME

Say it again

Jesus loves ME

And again

Jesus loves ME

And again

JESUS LOVES ME

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME!

Now keep that thought in your head because its TRUE

JESUS LOVES YOU ❤