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!

 

Enjoy the Moment

I punched the address into our GPS and we hit the road not taking the time to look at the route we would be traveling.

We were off on another day of our road trip and were somewhere in between Niagara Falls and our new destination which was Cooperstown, NY.

About half an hour into our journey we seemed to be heading into the middle of nowhere so I decided to check the route on the GPS. Our destination was correct in the GPS but now I realized that the route was all backroads. We decided to go ahead stay the course.

We had started in a city turning off on to a small state highway leading to a small county road, leading to an even smaller road. Before long the smaller road we were on had led us into a road in the woods and we were now traveling down, down, down to the foot of a very large hill. Gradually we had passed fewer cars and fewer homes and now we weren’t passing anyone at all.

I started to get real nervous when we passed a sign saying we had entered a State Forest, BUT my biggest worry happened when I discovered that our cell phones didn’t have signals anymore!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always up for a travel adventure, and I absolutely love visiting places that I have never been before, BUT… one thing I don’t like is getting lost… and especially in unfamiliar territory.

Getting lost is a big fear for me. The first time I ever got lost I was going to a school fair. I was 16 years old and a brand-new driver. I live in an area where the Mississippi River is the dividing line between Missouri and Illinois. I was heading to the fair and it was the farthest from my house that I’d ever driven. I remember making a wrong turn, suddenly finding myself crossing the river and a sign saying, “Welcome to Illinois.” I was lost in Illinois for what seemed like forever to me. I remember being really scared, I think in my teenage mind I imagined that I’d never find my way back to Missouri.

I did find my way back to Missouri and also to the fair that day, but ever since that day, I was always getting myself lost in the car.

And then someone invented the GPS!

Oh man, how I love the GPS! The GPS is the greatest invention in the world for people like me! All I have to do is just punch in the address and it tells me exactly where to go. Another great thing about it is, if I make a wrong turn it will reroute and put me right back on course!

But this day we had no signal!

The good part was – as long as we stayed the course that was already mapped out for us on our GPS it would still get us to where we were going because those directions would stay in place.

BUT… the bad part was – if we happened to make a wrong turn or if there were any road changes at all then we would be in trouble. If the GPS were to need to reroute that could not happen without a signal.

I guess you guessed by now that I was panicking just a bit…. okay make that a lot! I was also praying a little prayer over and over in my head asking God to please keep our GPS on course.

My husband didn’t seem worried at all. He just kept driving along.

But me over in the passenger seat had all kinds of worrying going on inside of my head which was enough for the both of us! I wanted so bad to get on a bigger road or in a town, anything that would get me back where there where other people traveling.

And then suddenly right in the middle of my panic, I heard a soft whisper say, “Just enjoy the moment.”

Just enjoy the moment??

It was like a switch was flipped and I suddenly was able to see my true surroundings.

Wow!

There were tall trees so massive, yes but wow they were so majestic, then I noticed the patches of wildflowers lining the road. A little while later we started going out of the woods and I could see a view for miles and it was spectacular!

God never ceases to amaze me.

Here I was in the middle of a beautiful adventure through nature with my husband and I was panicking about getting lost and I had almost missed the gift!

Seriously what was the big deal? I was on a road, it wasn’t like I was off in the woods on foot lost. I wasn’t in any danger and I would eventually come out into civilization again.

Something I realized in all of this is how thankful I am for my connection with God. Unlike my GPS signal, God’s signal is always here. It’s never out of range no matter where I go and that day he led me to see him in the beauty surrounding me. He led me to live right there in that exact moment and to truly enjoy it and also to enjoy Him along with his peace.

If you’ve never experienced God, if you don’t know God or if you don’t think he is real then I want to tell you this….

I used to believe he wasn’t real and I used to think people who wrote stuff like this were totally crazy. What I didn’t know then that I do know now is this – God is real and without him, I would be totally lost. I need him to guide my life or I would be a panicky mess all the time and then I would for sure go crazy. I really just don’t know what I would do without him and his reassuring voice to calm me when I feel nervous or afraid.

Our car’s GPS did stay the course that day and we soon found ourselves at our destination. We never got lost but if we had, I know that we wouldn’t have been alone, and I am pretty sure we would have still enjoyed ourselves. As for now in this moment I want to give thanks to God for that wonderful day that I enjoyed the moment in because of him. It will be etched in mind forever.

God is my true GPS.

I hope you my dear reader have a great day today and don’t forget to take the time to enjoy each moment that God has given to you.

Terri

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

 

I Still See

Hey all,

Can you believe it’s already Monday again?!!!

The older I get the faster time seems to fly by.

Speaking of time flying by, sometimes I think its good to slow down not only during the moments we have right now but also to slow down and take a look back at how far we have come.  I find it amazing at how things that once were hard have actually helped me to become the more secure in who I am today.   Today before I share the song I want to share something I wrote in August of 2014.

Before we get started here is a little background on what was going on the day I wrote it –  I was on vacation in Mexico and had suddenly discovered a black hole directly in the center of my vision in one of my eyes.  At that time I also already had a blind spot in my other eye that hadn’t been very noticeable with both eyes open. Now with blindness in both eyes, I was in a full-blown panic.  I was laying in a beach chair beside the ocean, real live storm clouds looming over the water but a larger storm was going on inside my mind.  I could not bear to open my eyes because I didn’t want to see the blind spots. In the middle of it all God spoke peace to me.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the peace of God and how he can totally give peace in the middle of some of our hardest moments in life.  This was one of my hardest moments and God made it peaceful.  Sometimes in life we really can’t do anything about our situation except give it to God.

Okay so much for sharing an old blog post I seem to not be able to stop typing and it now looks as if I am writing a new one…

Here is the post form Aug. 2014…

I Still See

 

20140829_130352

The wind is raging, storm clouds looming over the waves and in my mind.

I see where I don’t see and it frightens me.

The waves crash the shore and inside my mind they crash my sanity.

Fear overwhelming, the roar of the ocean matching the roar in my mind

Threatening dark clouds in the distance much like the dark blur obscuring my vision of the beauty before me.

The beauty…you are so big you created this

I feel so small right now,

I know you are so much bigger than me and even more bigger than the small blur.

I feel the breeze starting to cool as the storm in the distance calms the storm that is raging inside calms too.

The blur still threatens to get in the way but you won’t let it.

Even if I can’t see… I still see YOU perfectly.

20140829_124958Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

via I Still See

Now for today’s Music Monday song

“Even if” by MercyMe

Even if what we are praying for isn’t seeming to end, our hope is still in Jesus.  He will always be there for us and with Him we can move on. Even in the middle of the storm we can always find Jesus right beside us.

Thanks so much for coming by the blog today, I hope in some way what I’ve shared can inspire you or help you to find the peace you are looking for. Jesus is the only answer I really know of for perfect peace inside and I hope if that is what you are looking for you will know him too.  If you want more info about knowing Jesus you can click -> here.

T

The Resting Place

This is where I found my cat sleeping this morning.

Lately, I can’t seem to keep him off of my Bible.  It seems to have become his favorite resting place.

When I saw him so peacefully resting in my Bible it made me think of how it makes me feel when I open this book each day and read the special messages God has tucked inside for me.

No, it doesn’t make me fall asleep like Bart, but instead, HIs words fill me with peace.

The Bible is the place where I know I will always find my Jesus and the peace that only comes when I rest in HIm.

Where will you find your rest today?

Music Monday – How Great Thou Art

Don’t you sometimes wish God would just talk out loud?

A few nights ago, my husband and I were supposed to volunteer for the Compassion table at The Roadshow concert.  But I was thinking about not going.

I  am 3 weeks post surgery and I’m not supposed to be standing for long periods of time plus I feel pretty wiped out every night by evening. Add to that it had been a dreary cloudy day and they were calling for a lot of rain that would make driving an hour and a half to and from the concert miserable.

I decided to tell my husband about my thoughts on not going but before I could speak he said, “I sure am looking forward to going to the concert tonight!”

So you guessed it, I kept my thoughts to myself and we went to the concert.

Upon arriving we were met by a lot of our friends we’ve made over the years who also work these events and suddenly I was happy to be there.

We then had training and prayer and we were soon off to our assigned table… A table on the floor inside the concert. Most people only visit the table during intermission so that means we pretty much got to watch the whole concert in what I would consider some of the best seats in the house!

Now I want to get off subject for just a minute…. Hopefully, this will all come together and make sense soon.

For quite some time now I have this odd feeling that God is stripping me down bringing me back to the basics. I’ve been a little mixed up about why when I follow His lead things don’t go like I thought they would go.

Now add this – Volunteering with Compassion has always been something I feel very passionate about but for about a year God had been leading me in a different direction which felt strange to me. And then this past December I started feeling Him pulling me back toward Compassion.

Add to that the story about my blog I told you a few days ago and it’s a recipe for confusion

Now back to the concert…

I am sitting there watching the concert (they gave me a chair! Yay!), Natalie Grant comes on stage with a powerful message about wanting Jesus more than anything and then she sings the song ‘More than Anything.’  The words go – Help me want the Healer More than the healing, Help me want the Savior, More than the saving, Help me want the Giver, More than the giving, Oh help me want You Jesus.

I had never heard that song until that moment… Add this to the stuff I wrote earlier- A lot has been going on in my life for what seems like a really long time from all sides of life. I keep living my life for Jesus yet bad stuff just keeps happening and there is really nothing I can do about any of it except keep praying and stay close to Jesus.

Which I do do.

Natalie sang more songs all of which had God speaking to me through them and then she started singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ and I started to sing along.  I could totally feel God speaking to me about what I am supposed to do…the writing, Compassion… the junk in my life.

At that moment I was laying it all down and then I said to him,God, it would be so much easier if you would just speak out loud to me,” and I heard Him in my mind say, “It’s time to get to work and get some kids sponsored” and then at the same exact time I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard the words “it’s time to get back work and get some kids sponsored” coming out of my husbands mouth.

!!!!!!!!

I was suddenly jarred back into the room… strangely I never really realized that I had totally forgotten the rest of the people there.  For in the previous moments it had only been me and God.  The lights were coming on now and people were coming up to the table to sponsor kids.  I looked across the table and saw a woman who I had been talking to at the beginning of the concert who had been unsure about sponsoring as a child, she was now turning in a packet because she was sponsoring!!

I knew without a doubt this was where I was supposed to be.  I can’t even begin to explain the peace that washed over me.

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

How Great God is!

Since my surgery, I haven’t been to a church service in 3 weeks. I was sick for 2 Sundays and then church was canceled another Sunday because of snow.

Today it felt so good to get to church and imagine my surprise (not) when we sang “How Great Thou Art

Happy Music Monday to you!

What song has moved you recently? Share it in the comments or on your blog and then link in the comments.