Counting My Blessings

 

“When I am worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings…” The little interlude in White Christmas when Bing sings this song to Clooney is one of my favorite parts of that movie. It’s a pretty song in that crooner’s voice, and the sentiment is a good one.

If the truth were known, there have been very few nights in my life when left to myself I couldn’t sleep soundly. It just isn’t a problem I have. The problem I have is that for a good portion of my adult life I have had other people who depended on me who could not sleep at night. So I have been woken up – a lot.

I gotta tell you – I really, really love my sleep. And when I get woken up, my go-to response is not to count my blessings. I will refrain from incriminating myself by confessing my first response. My second response is generally some form of repentance for the first one.

Strokeman has had several weeks here lately of needing me repeatedly throughout the night. He has gut pain, and he has a rash that itches and must be oiled and rubbed. And in order to distract himself he wants to watch TV. All.night. He mutes the sound, but that flashing of the screen…argh. So I put my mask on and pray my repentance and try to get a few moments peace between calls for help.

This week seemed to be ending on a better note. After two very traumatic medical appointments, we ended with a shot of cortisone that curbed the itching as it was supposed to and had the added bonus of giving some relief from the gut pain. And then the hiccups started. What is it about steroids and hiccups? But they weren’t bad, and I am so exhausted, I think I could have ignored them.

“Hey!” I thought, “I might actually get to sleep tonight, and (dare I hope?) go to church in the morning!”

About the time I was getting ready to head to the bed, Strokeman started vomiting. And my night became rounds of holding the bucket while keeping the torpefied arm in position so that Strokeman could stay on his side while his stomach heaved. I said my good-byes to sleep, and to church. I looked for ways to soothe and comfort. After all, as much as I felt sorry for myself, I have not lost my mind to such an extent that I couldn’t see who was the real victim in this scenario. Such disappointment he had as he realized how short lived that relief from the gut pain would be! Such humiliation and suffering he experienced as he propped himself up on his good elbow the keep from spewing his supper on himself and the bed.

It’s easy at the moment to whine and complain. Life is hard, and there is no denying it. Lack of sleep does not make me a nice person. But I have not been called to an easy life. I am told in the scripture that in this world I will have tribulation. I am told I should expect to suffer. And I am told to count it all joy. I am told to let my requests be made known to God with thanksgiving.

This is a discipline. I am not the most discipline-inclined person in the world. I am pretty good at making excuses for why I can’t do what is required of me. From a worldly perspective I can give you a long list of reasons why I should not have to be thankful. But as a Christian, the worldly perspective is not worth my attention. Instead, I turn to the perspective of Christ. He suffered by taking on the punishment of the very sins I commit each time I am woken up in the middle of the night. He served those who should have been serving him. He did things way below his rightful position. He gave up his place of authority. And as he anticipated his death for people who were still sinning, he prayed for us. Surely I can start here.

I am thankful that while I was content in my willful sin Christ died for me. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit breathed life into my heart of stone and made it a heart of spiritual life. I am thankful that the Father looks on me through the blood of His Son and accepts me as his own child. I am thankful that each person of the triune God agrees to pour out love upon me in a way that not only secures my soul but also purges it that it may be clean. I am thankful that none of my life here on this earth is meaningless. It is all for the purpose of being conformed to the image of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am also thankful that at a time when I felt such a yearning for a vacation my sister came to spend a couple of days with me. We didn’t get to go on that cruise we dream about. But somehow just having her here to share the times between calls for help was a respite. I felt rejuvenated when she left.

I am thankful that my daughter is back home after a stay in the hospital last month. I am thankful that we have insurance to cover the stay, and that she is feeling more like herself these days. I am thankful for her amazing strength and the spiritual maturity as she remained calm and cheerful in spite of this huge setback; always eager to give a reason for the hope that she has.

I am thankful for getting to have most of my family here for a Thanksgiving dinner and that they will all be here at the end of this month. I am thankful to be so loved by every one of my children and their spouses. And then there are those grand children! Oh how thankful I am for them.

I am thankful that in spite of the many setbacks and complications of last month I was able to make strides in my attempts to make Young Living a meaningful source of income. Even this month has brought surprises in that area that can only be attributed to the grace of God.

I am thankful for music: singing in the Texas Traditions Chorus, listening to Handel’s Messiah at Bass Hall, iTunes, this post on a favorite Hymn, various youtube videos, etc. etc. etc.

I am thankful the itching stopped before the vomiting began. I am thankful that it was only coming out of one end (pardon me, but man am I thankful for that!). I am thankful for washing machines and essential oils and cleaning products and extra clothes. I am thankful for cortisone shots.

I am thankful for birds singing out my window and unexpected visits from old friends. I am thankful for my African family and my American family and that I actually have such an amazing life that I get to have two extended families. And speaking of families, I am thankful for my church family. What a blessed plan this community of believers thing is!

So, in spite of the fact that I may never get to fall asleep, I can still count my blessings. They are many and abundant. I have only scratched the surface.

 

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Happy Anniversary!

On October 4, I received a notice from WordPress congratulating me on my two-year anniversary as a blogger on their site. My, what a lot of water has gone under the bridge in those two years. Much of it has been good. Much of it has been hard. But underneath it all have been the Everlasting Arms.

I am mindful of the fact that this would be the proverbial tree falling in the forest if it weren’t for my readers. (Is it really a blog if no one reads it?) So I want to say thank you for stopping by to read the muddled thoughts of a middle-aged lady in crisis. I am reminded of this song by Brandi Carlisle that states, “But these stories don’t mean anything when you’ve got no one to tell them to…” So thank you for letting me tell my stories to you.

As I look back over the years, I am grateful for the growth I have seen in myself. This month I bought a car for my daughter, and while I had plenty of help from my friends, I did it without a whole lot of panic and second-guessing. I also managed to get her piece of junk old car sold in a matter of 24 hours. It was just something that had to be done and I did it. I took care of the septic tank needing to be serviced. I got the air conditioner fixed. And all the time I marveled at the lack of tears and fears and panic. I have learned. I have learned to ask the right people for help. I have learned that I am able to make sound decisions. I have learned that the walls don’t crumble around me if the decision turns out to not be all that sound. Apparently this week’s lesson will be about winterizing a tractor, woo-hoo!

I have grown spiritually, as well. I have learned more about trusting in my Savior. I have learned tons about how to pray. I have learned to do what I can to make our lives function properly, and then to rest in the provision of God for the things that I can’t figure out. It is a discipline to work diligently while not resting on my own abilities to accomplish anything. As James so aptly says, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

As for Strokeman, he continues to have debilitating pain in his abdomen. We have gone through various tests and found nothing of significance. I am learning that this is not all that uncommon. So we continue to use the pain medicine prescribed by his doctor along with various natural remedies. All this barely takes the edge off the pain. However, some of the natural remedies have given him a clearer mind. He has begun to have me pull engineering books off the shelf and find old files in the attic. He will spend a few minutes at mealtime going through one of these. It is good to see him doing some analytical thinking.

One of the underlying themes of the past few years has been the issue of finances. We are well taken care of due to the hard work history of my husband and a generous inheritance from his parents. But the truth of the matter is that we are spending money at a faster rate than we should, and we stand in danger of not having it last until we are done living. So I have gone through periods of searching for a way to bring in additional income while still fulfilling the role I have as wife and caregiver. I had settled into a pattern of heading in a potential employment direction until it came to a standstill, and then renewing my trust in the Provider of all things. I told my daughter, Faith the other day, “You just need to follow a lead until it peters out, and then you just trust that God will take care of you until the next opportunity arises.” This has been my journey.

The last time the urgency for money seemed to be at a high, I read most of a book called, What Color is Your Parachute. This book is designed to help you work toward getting a job that will best fit your personal gifts. One of the exercises was to write down your strengths and interests. I wrote down that I liked to speak in public, I like to write, and I like being in a position to help people. The logical progression in my mind was that this sounded like a teacher. But I hated the thought of assignments and grading homework. Plus, my life really does not lend itself to a job that requires me to be away from home for large chunks of time every day. I investigated a job at a nearby hospital for a part-time, PRN social worker, which was my profession a very long time ago. But when I started filling out the online application, I got stumped at the part where the job history only goes back 10 years. It has been 24 years since my certification lapsed (and how does one even manage to get that certification reinstated?) And so, I put it all to rest and set my face towards the needs at home.

At this point the needs at home had escalated with the return of my daughter, sick and weak and unable to care for her self. Most of the tools we used to get her back on her feet were Young Living essential oils and supplements. While my main interest in using them was to build the health of my daughter, I found that they also helped this tired momma manage to care for two needy people at once without totally going insane or dying from exhaustion. In fact, you may find this hard to believe, but I unintentionally weaned myself off of coffee using their Ningxia Red.

When I signed up to buy Young Living products wholesale, I told my sponsor that I did not want to be pressured into doing anything other than using the products for my own family. She promised to never try to push me to do anything I didn’t want to do, and she has kept that promise. But that membership gained me entrance to a private Facebook group where questions could be asked and testimonials could be shared. I began to read everything on that site. And I began to go to the classes that were offered to its members. And then I noticed that when people would ask questions, I knew the answers. I enjoyed being able to help others benefit from my knowledge, not only about YL products, but also about healthy living in general.

Then in August my financial planner reminded me that I was burning through the money too quickly and I started down the, “how can I bring in some money?” path. And it hit me. Here in front of me is an opportunity to speak in public about something I truly love and believe in, write about something I love and believe in, and help others (and no assignments or homework to grade!). The best part about it is that there is no risk, because this is something I am going to use whether I help anyone else or not. And so I am teaching my first Introduction to Essential Oils class at my house on October 18, at 5:00pm. I am hopeful that this might be a way of supplementing our income from home.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and would like to know more about this adventure I am on, you are welcome to come that night. If you want more information, you can email me at bdeanna03@gmail.com. If you do not live in this area and would like to know more, please feel free to contact me. This type of business knows no boundaries in terms of state and is even available in several countries.

If you have no interest at all in essential oils and could care less about learning more, would you please pray for me? This seems like a really good option for me, but I know I will need to work hard to make it more than just a hobby. Pray that God will give me wisdom and patience. Pray that He will help me to keep my priorities straight.

One of the hardest things about this decision has to do with my fear that it will make me even less consistent with my blogging. I am not so worried that you need me, as that I need you. The head of my YL team used to be a blogger, but has put that aside temporarily to concentrate on her growing business, and growing family. I hope that I can do both. There are some things I have wanted to write about in the realm of health, environment, etc., that may find their way onto a page in relation to my use of oils. However, I would probably do that in a separate blog. I don’t want this venue to become a perpetual advertisement. It has a different purpose.

To summarize (as Strokeman used to say), I want to thank you, dear readers for your love and support over the last two years. You have been a source of much joy for me. I hope we have many more years together to encourage each other to love and good deeds. I thank you for your prayers and ask that continue to pray for me as I seek to serve my family with a heart toward ever becoming more like my Savior.

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The Great Paradox: Wholeness through Brokenness

strokemanswoman:

Thankful once again to be a guest on Heather’s blog. Here is part two of two.

Originally posted on Tethered Together:

Once again I welcome the wisdom of Deanna Brown as she expounds on how the creative process brings healing to our brokenness. This is a subject she understands by experience. You can read part one, here, if you missed it!


“Wounds. By his wounds we are healed. But they are our wounds, too, and until we have been healed we do not know what wholeness is. The discipline of creation, be it paint, compose, write, is an effort toward wholeness.

“. . . How many artists, in the eyes of the world, have been less than whole? Toulouse-Lautrec had the body of a man and the legs of a child. Byron had a clubfoot. Demosthenes was a terrible stutterer. Traditionally, Homer was blind. The great artists have gained their wholeness through their wounds, their epilepsies, tuberculoses, periods of madness.” Madeleine L’Engle Walking on Waterbroken

In my previous post, I explored…

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Painful Purification: Beauty from Ashes.

strokemanswoman:

This is a guest post I wrote for a dear friend and fellow writer. Heather is soon to publish her first novel! I am so honored to be a part of that journey.

Originally posted on Tethered Together:

I’m so stoked, and honored, to share a special guest post from Deanna Brown. This dear friend has walked a difficult road the past four years. One most of us will never be challenged to experience. When I came across the quote (below) from Madeleine L’Engle, I knew I could not relate to the type of pain expressed in the passage with the same depth as others. Deanna naturally came to mind as I have watched her deal with varied, longterm affliction. Her raw honesty is beautiful. She takes her crumbling world to the feet of the cross and finds a gracious, faithful Savior that lifts her and enables her to continue to share His love and goodness with others. Deanna pours herself out and Christ fills her up! Read on and be encouraged. (This is Part 1 of 2 posts).


Thank you, Heather, for the opportunity to be…

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Silver and Gold

There is a man at my church who has recently taken up the hobby of making jewelry of sterling silver and gold plate. Having commented on the various pieces his wife has worn to church (and maybe begged a little), I was so excited when he gifted to me two bracelets he had made. (It’s amazing what you can get from people if your life is pitiful and you aren’t above a bit of manipulation). With this thoughtful token of his labors, he encouraged me to let them be a reminder of the passages in the scripture that talk of silver and gold. I thought that was a lovely idea. So with my jewelry in hand (or on arm), I came home resolved to search out and meditate on the many references to gold and silver in the Bible. As this was a great encouragement to me, I thought it might be helpful to someone else. Thus I will share what I consider to be the most significant findings of my study.

The Temple: During my study, I began to wonder just what makes gold and silver more precious than the other metals. A quick search revealed that gold is valued for its unique color, along with the fact that it does not react to other substances. It’s lack of reaction means it does not rust or corrode, and thus, has a staying power other elements do not. Another aspect that makes gold valuable is its relatively low melting point, which makes it easy to purify and mold. Silver also has a lower melting point, and is a great conductor, making it useful for other applications besides just pretty jewelry. These things coupled with limited availability give gold and silver their worth.

It is no wonder, then, that gold and silver were used for many of the temple accouterments. They were of great value, they were of lasting value, and they were easily molded into the various forms needed. The beauty of the gleaming metals would add to the overall splendor of this earthly building that was a type and shadow not only of the new heaven and earth, but also of the beautiful spiritual dwelling place of Christ with his bride, the Church. Think of it, the temple was greatly embellished with gold, silver, precious stones and the most luxurious materials. And yet, we are told that this is just symbolism of that which is of far greater value. And what would be the fulfillment? What were these symbols pointing to? The accomplished work of Christ on the cross. The accomplishment of peace on earth and good will towards man; the condescension of the Triune God to make a way of reconciliation for His people; the beauty of Christ and his Church.  John Bunyon, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, has written a work entitled Solomon’s Temple Spiritualized. I have not read it all, but have had my appetite whetted to read it just by having read the introduction by the editor of The Works of Bunyon, a Mr. George Offor, Esq.  He writes, “The cost of Solomon’s temple has been estimated at eight hundred thousand millions of money: if this is true, still how infinitely inferior is that vast sum to the inconceivable cost of the eternal temple, with its myriads of worshippers, for which the Son of God paid the ransom, when he made the atonement for transgression, and built that imperishable temple which neither human nor satanic malevolence can ever destroy, and in which every spiritual worshipper will be crowned with an everlasting weight of glory.” So the earthly temple in all it’s glory teaches us the great value of the gift we receive when the Triune God sets His heart on us and calls us into His spiritual kingdom.

There is another aspect to the gold and silver of the Temple that I think is fitting to remember.  Intense heat is used to refine these metals, and then hammers are used to pound them into the proper shape. They are engraved with sharp objects, and polished with much friction. Malachi 3 refers to the Messiah as like a refiner’s fire. His people are like that gold and silver that comes out of the ground full of impurities and looking for the world like dirt. It is through the heat of the fire, and the blow of the hammer, and the friction and poking of sanctification that we begin to shine like precious metal. While it is never pleasant to experience the heat of that fire, it is necessary to purify us that we might be the jewelry that adorns His bride, the church. Could there be a more beautiful picture?

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What is more important: Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs we are told of things that should be more valuable to us than gold or silver. In Psalm 19 we are told that these things are more to be desired than gold:

1.     The law that converts the soul

2.     The testimony of the Lord that makes the simple wise

3.     The statutes of the Lord that rejoice the heart

4.     The commandments of the Lord that enlighten the eyes

5.     The fear of the Lord that endures forever

6.     The judgements of the Lord that are true and righteous.

Here I am reminded of the passage in Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The law shows us our sinfulness and our need for a Redeemer. So yes, it is more precious than gold. And beyond that, God’s word both written and in the person of His son (see John 1), is a gift beyond price to the heart of a believer. We see these truths echoed in Psalm 12:6, 119: 72 & 127.

Proverbs tells us that wisdom should be sought more than silver or gold. This idea is repeated in Proverbs2:4, 3:13-14, 8:10-11, 8:19, 16:16. Closely related to this is the wise rebuke being of more value to those with an obedient ear (25:9), as well as lips of knowledge (20:15) (10:20) and words fitly spoken (25:11).

I have to confess that I am a worrier about silver and gold. Despite my resolve as a young adult that I would not spend my life worrying about money, I have often done just that. We have always been taken care of, sometimes miraculously (see this post), but as I am now ultimately responsible for making our fixed income outlast our lives, I can get more than a bit flustered at times. I needed this reminder. Do I appreciate the value of what I have? Do I seek to store up wisdom the way I seek to hoard my money? Do I seek out and value the wise words of those who are knowledgeable of spiritual things? Do I have an obedient ear to the wise rebuke? When I need help on a particular subject is my first inclination to search the web for the wisdom of the world, or to search the Bible for the principals that should guide my thinking?

I live in a culture that is full of slurred lines and grey areas. We would all agree that stealing is wrong, but we are constantly looking for ways to get something for nothing. We would agree that murder is wrong, but are quite ok with hate and intolerance and the killing of unborn babies. Adultery is wrong, unless we can come up with a good enough excuse to justify our actions. It’s easy to find myself buying into the compromise that is such a part of the world I live in. And yet here I am told that the law of the Lord is to be desired more than gold. Is this my attitude toward God’s law? Do I seek to live a life of integrity that looks for ways to obey instead of excuses to disobey? Do I pick and choose which laws are important and which don’t apply to me? If I truly understand the value that God puts on them, then I will do my best to give them my utmost respect.IMG_1465

Outward versus inward: Because of the value put on gold and silver in this world, we have a tendency to give it higher esteem in our interaction with other people. We are warned in James 2 not to show deference for the man with the gold rings and fine clothing in the Assembly of God’s people. Both rich and poor should be treated with the same amount of grace and respect. In James 5 the other side of the coin is addressed, instructing those with much gold and all of the power that comes with it not to abuse that power or to expect certain advantages because of it. We are reminded that all the gold in the world will not save the oppressor in the Day of the Lord. As a woman I am instructed that I should be more concerned with my heart’s condition than I am my outward adornment of silver and gold and pretty clothes (1Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter3:3).

All these verses acknowledge the value of precious metals in our earthly economy. The possession of them is not the thing in question here. The obsession of them is the issue. This is a sort of application of the passages on the Temple and the ones on what is to be more important. If we understand the great price that was paid for us to become children of God (1 Peter 1:6-9) and to give us access to the Mercy Seat; if we understand the great value of the Word of God, both written and in the person of Jesus Christ, then we will not be distracted with the lesser economy of this world. If God has adopted me as His own, then I don’t have fear of need. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23). I am freed, then to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and know, without a doubt, that all these things will be added unto me (Matthew 6:33).

That last reference brings me to my conclusion. I think it is safe to say that when I put on one of my bracelets, I will, indeed think of the many references to silver and gold found throughout the scriptures. But I will also be reminded of the community of fellow pilgrims that I am privileged to be “boiling” with in the Refiner’s fire. I will remember the thoughtful gift from an old friend I have come together with week in and week out for 20+ years to worship the King. I will remember those who have rejoiced when I have rejoiced and wept when I have wept. I will think of those who have carried my burdens and shared theirs with me. I will remember the pastors who have taught me to value God’s word above all things: Men who have labored to keep the truth shining before me. This little group of believers that make up my earthly church: they are His Kingdom in part. It is their welfare that I seek. And I pray that God will keep his mouthpieces faithful to the truth that His kingdom may come and His will may be done here in our midst.

 

 

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How I Spent My Summer

It has been so long since I have written anything of substance that perhaps I should give a bit of an overview of what I have been up to. This has been a difficult summer in the Brown house. Strokeman has been plagued with many an ailment which resulted in visits to various doctors and testing facilities. Basically what we found out was a huge amount of nothing. The rash on his limbs is a vague contact allergy of which we hope to find the source after more testing. I have my suspicions that he might be “allergic” to too much contact with the bed, but I am not hopeful that this will show up on a patch test. Meanwhile, he is on a round of steroids to keep him from clawing himself.

The pain in his side is probably Irritable Bowel Syndrome that is presently being kept tolerable by medication. He watches the clock to inform me when the next dose is due (not all that effectively as he often misses the first digit, causing him to proclaim at 12:00 that it is 2:00). He has taken to not walking at all, other than to the bathroom and back.

Because of his discomfort, nights have been pretty rough. If it isn’t him shaking the bed rubbing his right arm against the sheet for relief from the itching, it’s his left leg jerking involuntarily for no apparent reason. Or there might be another round of perpetual hiccups caused by the anti-itch medicine. Then there is the insomnia, which results in his turning on the TV at odd hours and wanting to make a breakfast order at 4:00am.

Beyond the complications to life here at home have been grief and trials of loved ones that are just beyond comprehension. The weight of these things on my heart and the frustration that I am not at liberty to do anything to help beyond lending a sympathetic ear and praying for them has taken its toll.

Needless to say, I have not been at my best. In fact I became so depleted that I started having weird symptoms that precipitated my being driven to the ER by my daughter while I sobbed uncontrollably (I’m fine). Not exactly the way I would recommend a caregiver to conduct her life. It would have been better if I had been a little more proactive about taking care of my own body. I am surrounded by people who want to help me, but I could not even think of what to ask for.

The varying health issues had Strokeman contemplating worst-case scenarios. We have had discussions of life insurance, burial plots, nursing homes (“please just put me down before you put me in a nursing home”), etc. He has thanked me for his children and given me permission to remarry when he passes on. As bothersome as his symptoms are, it seems that none of these scenarios are in our near future.

Once again, my church family has rallied around me to offer meals, clean my house, encourage me and pray for me. My youngest son sent me away for an entire day while he cared for his dad. When I came home at 5:00, he told me it was too early and sent me away again. My designated deacon admonished me to set up regular sitter service again so that I can get away for some respite, and that it is ok to let my church family help me pay for it. I lamented to my sister how hard it is to accept this kind of help and she reminded me of my own words about being the stinky feet (you can read it here). Just like a sister.

In the midst of the various medical appointments, I have also compiled various and sundry financial documents to establish a formal relationship with a financial planner. I used this opportunity to bring order to chaos by setting up a proper filing system. I also have been dealing with a mistake made on my 2012 income tax form, a broken toilet, sugar ants and crickets in the house.

For the moment, we are on smoother water, so long as we don’t run out of pain pills or steroid cream. We are up to 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at least once a night. I am working towards finding a sitter to come twice a month for 6-8 hours (hopefully one of those days will be a Sunday, so I can spend the day with my church family). I can tell I feel better, because I have enjoyed time in the kitchen doing more than the bare minimum, and had energy left to actually clean up after myself. I have even broken out in a dance a few times. But many of the habits I had – regular reading and writing to name a few- have to be re-established. So bear with me as I bring order to the mayhem over here. I will be back eventually.

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Three Years, A Journey- Part 1

strokemanswoman:

This is my daughter’s blog. She writes of the same things but from a different perspective. I thought you might enjoy reading this in the absence of anything from me lately! It’s hard for me to read. I regret having abandoned my children during a time when they needed me. Thankful they have forgiving hearts.

Originally posted on faithelizabeth93:

It is crazy to think that just months ago my life was completely different. Just months ago I was living in an apartment. I was working 50 hours a week between 2 jobs. I had tons of friends and a completely different life style.

When I first got sick several months ago, I felt defeated. I felt everything I had slipping away and all I could do was lay in bed and kiss it all goodbye. I was angry. I was terrified. I was hurt. And I was bitter. I spent many hours crying out to God and many hours feeling like it was pointless to cry out to Him anymore. The longer I laid there in that bed the more I lost. God was stripping me of everything. I lost my apartment, I lost my savings, I could not work, I lost my “friends,” I lost my comfort foods….everything…

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