Santa is a stalker

It’s that’s time of year again —

Middle School Carpool

#middleschoolcarpool
 

Kid 1: Sometimes when I fart my mom says it sounds wet — but it really ISN’T — it just SOUNDS that way.

Kid 2: That song, “Let It Go” is really about someone who has to go to the bathroom really bad!

(three kids break out in song and laughter)

Kid 1: I think Santa is a stalker.  I mean think about it “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good….” I mean really … that’s CREEPY!

ROARING laughter over Santa being a stalker. R-O-A-R-I-N-G, I tell you.

But the good news for me is that it was only a 1-window afternoon.  Just a tiny bit of stink.  That’s miracle territory considering it was 97 degrees when I picked them up. Thank you Jesus that we didn’t have to experience a “wet fart.”  God help me.

Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, the wet fart kid was not mine.

Advertisements

waiting, waiting, waiting… and worn out

Waiting… we do it all the time:

  • We wait for our turn at the doctor’s office
  • We wait for the green light at the busy intersection on the way to work
  • We wait for our toddlers to calm down from their temper tantrums (or fall asleep)

So why then is it so hard for us to wait for things like these:

  • Waiting for Mr. Right to come along
  • Waiting for the right job with the right pay and the right location
  • Waiting for the medical tests to come back

Ugh — I know.  This bible verse is a lot to take in.  And some of you are rolling your eyes.  I “get that” because I’ve been there.  A little over two years ago I was sitting in my car wailing because the doctor who I put all my trust in showed me that he hadn’t heard a word of my outcry in his office.  I was crushed.  I felt so alone and confused and … well, that no one could possibly understand what I was feeling.  I shut myself off from everyone because I couldn’t handle the weight of the defeat.

God?
No, I didn’t seek Him out — I was too wrapped up in my angst to cry out to God.

People said things like this to me:

This is all part of God’s plan.
God is teaching you patience.
God is showing you that doctor wasn’t the right one.

Really?  He is teaching me patience by torturing me with pain?  His plan includes me not being able to open doors with my own hands?  God waited to tell me the doctor wasn’t right for me AFTER I had so many medications in my system that I couldn’t even remember what all I was taking?

That day was my rock bottom.  I was worn out. You could’ve told me I had cancer and was going to die in two days and my wailing wouldn’t have sounded any different.

But on that day, I surrendered.  All my cards were on the table.  I was out of ideas, and I was tired of listening to people and their theories of what God was trying to tell me or teach me.

I realized that people couldn’t fill the hole that was inside of me.  I cried out to God.  But it was different this time.  I needed Him.  I finally figured out He was the only thing that would fill the void.  It felt like putting the last piece of a puzzle into place — He fit perfectly.  I wanted His will because I was exhausted from trying to figure it out on my own.  I sought out prayer from people who would actually pray for me – right that second.  I blew the dust off my bible and started reading through the Psalms.

Little by little, I could feel myself crawling out of the pit.  I surrendered when I realized my own plans were failing me.  I sought out wise input from others who had been down this road before me and found a doctor who came highly recommended.  The only problem was it took three months to get in to see her.

I had to wait for three months.

In the wait, here is what I was finally starting to grasp – but please note, it did NOT happen all at once and some of these lessons I will probably keep having to relearn over and over again:

  1. Trusting in the Lord isn’t a “flip of the switch” choice.  It takes effort, and time, and a willingness to let go… over and over again.
  2. When we depend on our own understanding we become pompous and arrogant.  We start to think that we “deserve” certain things because of our past or current situations.
  3. When God shows me which path to take, it doesn’t appear as a flashing sign with an arrow.  For me, God’s direction shows up as peace within me.  The anxiety about a choice disappears, or sometimes what was once a really big deal just simply — isn’t — anymore.
  4. When I am impressed with my own wisdom I am putting a lid on God’s abilities.  I’m shutting Him out and effectively saying, “WOW – look at me and how much I know!  Who needs God when I’m as smart as I am!”
  5. When you surrender your ways, your know-how, and your “deserving” attitude — THAT is when miracles happen….

In a few days, I will post the second half of this blog post and share what I learned in the wait.  In the meantime, I would love to pray for my readers.  Please share in the comment section what you’re waiting on — and one emotion that accurately describes how you feel while you’re waiting.  Are you worn?

bitter betty strikes again

Well… it happened again.
The bitter-Betty in me came out.

I know, we’ve had this discussion before.  And yes, I know better.  And I know God created us all different.  And I know that I don’t have to look like someone else to be valued and to feel good about myself.  AND, I know that I could make better food choices.  And I know that I am wonderfully made … and I know that I could … blah blah blah.

So if I know all of this, why does Betty still come visit?  She’s never invited, she just shows up!  She typically shows up when I’m struggling through some pain and know it’s time to sit my rear down to rest.  I feel guilty sitting down, and she knows that.  I don’t want to sit down, and Betty knows that too.

I want to volunteer at my son’s school and go have lunch with him.  I want to make cute things off Pinterest for my front door or trim up my flowers and bushes around the house.  I want to make my house look nice and work on curtains for another room.  I want to go for a run.  I want to go out and have lunch with friends.  I want to go to all of the birthday parties and baby showers and dinners we are invited to.  I want to go meet at the park with other parents so our kids can run around and play.

But I know that I should be resting.
So I “rest.”
And stew.
And feel bitter.

Enter Betty, stage right:  Betty points out all the people who take for granted all of those things that I WANT to do.  She will show me who is skinny.  She will show me who can run marathons.  She will remind me who the “cool moms” are.  She will want me to look at Facebook so that I can compare all of my shortcomings to other people’s strengths, and she will want me to zoom in on all of the pictures from parties or lunches that I couldn’t attend.  Her favorite thing to do is remind me that I don’t get invited to many things anymore.  Ooooo, she loves that one!  It’s a real zinger and she knows it.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.  Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT

  • My own wisdom: all the things I know
  • Turn away from evil: stewing and bitterness – and for crying out loud, turn away from BETTY!
  • Healing for my body: stop stewing = true resting = healing for my body
  • Strength for my bones: my bones are my framework, if my framework is stronger I’m less likely to crumble under pressure

My darling husband recently reminded me that it was much much harder for me to have to say “no” to the lunches, and showers, and parties, and ladies nights out than it is for me to not be invited to many anymore.  Because the truth is, packing my schedule full of all of those things isn’t healthy for me.  It will run me into the ground and my immune system will tank.  And I know this.  (reference wisdom bullet point above)

I have some spectacular friends who remind me gently to take some things off my schedule.  And I am so appreciative of that.  Because they help me do something that I sometimes struggle to do on my own.

I struggle to make the right choice.

It’s time to start choosing the path on which Betty is NOT standing with her coffee cup in-hand, eager to gossip and compare me to other people in my life.  Betty isn’t healthy for me.  And she isn’t healthy for you either.

Take a hike, Betty.  You wear me out.

{human barometer}

One of the most annoying things about chronic pain is that it’s incredibly difficult to find joy in the changing of the weather.  It doesn’t matter what kind of front is moving in because they all cause pain.  When that barometer moves, oh baby, I feel it.

Recently I was sitting around a table with some women from church as we worked on some assembly line packaging for an upcoming event.  We soon realized we were the chronic pain table.  Apparently we gravitate toward each other!  There was a woman who has already survived cancer, (only to have it again), a woman who had to have a crazy/intense jaw reconstruction, a woman who had back surgery to fuse part of her spine and REMOVE her coccyx, and me.  Before you have pity on us, it was actually refreshing to be around a group of ladies who “get it.”  They live it in my world (and so do their families).

After we joked about all of our medications, someone said, “have you been in pain since Saturday?”  Without a break in discussion, everyone pipped in about how awful their Saturday had been, myself included.  Another lady said, “my husband thinks I am crazy because I can tell when the weather is about to change.  He even looks at the weather online and tries to argue with me about the impending doom.”

So it isn’t just me.
We are all human barometers!

Even the local news did a piece on if people can truly feel the weather changes that are coming – and the “experts” agreed that yes, people with all sorts of medical issues or old injuries can literally feel something before a front moves through.

I don’t know if this helps you understand someone in your life who struggles with chronic pain, but I do hope it helps you realize that Aunt Margaret isn’t crazy – and she hasn’t been all these years.  She really does feel the weather change in her knees!

We don’t mean to be irritating meteorologists, I promise.  And we don’t mean to talk about our “flair” all the time either.  When we constantly have physical aches and pains it’s like sitting down in a chair at a Metallica concert and trying to talk about the rose bushes you planted yesterday.   Some days our pain is just too loud to focus on other things and we would LOVE your help to remind us that just because we are human barometers, we don’t have to talk about it all day long.

Please have patience with us.  Remember that our head-banging pain concert is stuck on repeat and sometimes the best distraction is quiet conversation, a funny movie, or even a nice drive together in the country.  When the pain concert is loud, it’s not the time to recommend they put their big girl panties on and go for a walk.

We know you mean well.
We know you want to help.
We know that exercise is good for us.

But please have patience with us.

Is there someone in your life who is a human barometer?  What frustrates you the most?

the roller coaster of chronic pain

 

I live with chronic pain.  While my husband doesn’t physically have chronic pain, he too has to live with it. He lives with mine. Neither of us got manuals on how to live with this incredibly unfortunate disease, and sometimes that shows.  We think we are in a good rhythm and then our roller coaster cars drop from the highest peak and take us screaming through tight turns and unexpected plunges.

We just want off the roller coaster.  Amen?

From my perspective, here’s where my ticket to ride stems from:

  • I think I can handle more, so I take on more.  And then … I can’t handle it.  I panic.  Then I get sad.  Usually my over-commitment comes in the form of wanting to bring in more money so my husband doesn’t pass out from exhaustion.
  • I feel like I have already given up so much of what used to make up my “normal” life, that I cling to the last few things I do/have until my knuckles turn white.
  • My joy can be depleted on day 3 of immense pain – and then I am a grumpasaurus rex to my family, complete with drooling and teeth baring.

And here’s where my husband’s ticket to ride comes into play:

  • He wants to be helpful but he. is. exhausted.  He is working full-time (and then some for extra money), he cooks, he makes lunches, he does laundry, he cleans, he mows, he does repairs on the house, and sometimes he actually gets to go out with a friend for guy time.
  • He never knows what kind of day I’m having, therefore he never knows what he will be walking in the door to find after work, which is totally not fair and makes him put on a defensive suit somewhere between his truck and the door to the house.
  • He sees my tennis match of emotions (back and forth, back and forth) and he so badly wants me to just figure out that I’m different now and I have to act in accordance with my limitations.

Hold the phone.
I have limitations?

For the love of all things chronic – if you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!  And guess what, if you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!

Why do I sometimes think I can do it all?  And I mean all.  It is usually about the time I am half-way through my grocery list in the store when the fatigue slams me, my feet start to spasm, and I have this overwhelming feeling to lay down on the packages of toilet paper on the shelf when I realize — “oh crap, I did it again.”

I want off this ride.
I didn’t ask to ride.
I want this ticket revoked!

Tough circus peanuts.  These are the cards I have been dealt.  I, Ann Skaehill, have fibromyalgia and a weak immune system.  I think it’s fair to say, this roller coaster is here to stay and it’s time for me to grow up and accept it.  I need to appreciate and care for my family FIRST before I fill my schedule with things that make me feel good about myself.  I need to be grateful for medications that can help with a few issues and TAKE THEM.  (Lord have mercy, medication is a whole blog post in itself!)

I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.  I think if I can embrace this new reality more firmly, then the turns and drops on the roller coaster won’t be so alarming or drastic.  For me, or my husband.

Two days ago my 10-year-old son said, “Hey mom?  You know how sometimes you just get so mad at me for things I do or should have done?  … Well, maybe you can start giving me a sign that I should go in another room.  Why don’t you blink four times and I’ll take off running!”

Ouch.

Reality check.  When I open my mouth to speak, my son is flinching and expecting the worst.  That is a huge problem that I have addressed over the past 2 days with him.  Grumpasaurus rex may still appear from time to time, but I’m working towards her extinction.  Ain’t nobody got time for the damage a dinosaur makes in the modern age.

Today is a new day, and the Bible tells us in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning.  Embrace your clean slate, and make wise choices today.  First on my list? Washing all the sheets in the house and ensuring my family has good food to eat.  What should be first on your list today?

give the gift of grace today

give the gift of grace today

In the Dallas area, it’s the first day of school for the majority of public schools.  So not only do we have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited kids who poured out of our homes and cars this morning — we also have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited parents who are doing their best to function “normally” today.

Even if you don’t have kids who went back to school,
give the gift of grace today.  

Here are real life examples of why you should give your coworkers (and strangers at the grocery store) some grace today:

  1. A family just moved from New Mexico 5 weeks ago and her kids know ZERO kids at school today, so mom is a bit nervous and anxious for her kids.
  2. A middle school girl was bullied to the point of wanting to take her life last year, and today she had to go back to school — needless to say, mom and dad are doing all they can to focus on their jobs today.
  3. A 5th grade boy with ADHD is going back to school, but this time with medication that will help him “not feel like a goof ball on the playground” (his words).  Mom and dad are anxious to hear how he fared socially today.
  4. Moms and dads took their “babies” to school for the very first time this morning and peeled their nervous children off their legs before they walked out of the school.
  5. A mom who gave a teacher the benefit of the doubt last year only to find out she truly had been singling out her kiddo is trying her best to give grace to the teacher this year and not hover over her son.
  6. A teacher fresh out of college welcomed kids into his classroom for the very first time this morning – I bet even HIS parents are nervous and anxious for him!

I have a feeling that many many moms and dads will be watching the clock today, waiting for that hour when they get to reunite with their kids to talk about what was awesome, and what needs improvement.  I bet many of these families could use our prayers.

While anxiety may be weighing down the hearts of many parents around you, cheer them up with an unexpected kind word.  Or when your coworker doesn’t follow through with the thing she said she would take care of, or the lady in Wal-Mart seems to be aimlessly walking down the middle of the aisle, do your very best to give them the gift of grace.

 

chronic pain is a broken record

Chronic pain feels like a broken record.  You know what’s coming.  But after the umpteenth time you’ve had to take a deep breath in hopes of relieving a muscle spasm … you’re so over it.

I ask God to relieve the pain in my wrists so I can walk through the grocery store with my hands on the cart instead of steering with my forearms.  I ask God to relieve the muscle spasms in my toes that make me walk funny.  I ask God to help me sit up straight and smile, even while the tears are stinging my eyes.  It hurts to sit up straight… but by the grace of God it doesn’t hurt to smile.

You might say, “Great verse, but it doesn’t answer my questions about why God isn’t answering my prayers!”

Are you sure?  I think it just might be answering one of my questions.  WHY ME?  Why am I going through this?  Why is this happening to me?  Why won’t you take my pain away like Jesus healed person after person after person?  I can’t work like I used to, serve like I used to, or DO like I used to!

I believe in this scripture, God is telling me He might not be taking away my pain for a reason.  He is growing my character.  He is growing me as His child, not as a mom or a wife or a friend or even as a ministry leader … He is focused on growing Ann.

It’s my job right now to shush-it, and listen.
It’s my job right now to read scripture.
To learn.  To pray.  To seek.
Because it’s already starting to happen.

He is already starting to use me.  He comforts me in ways I don’t even notice and I use those very things to comfort others.

I am sharing with those who are hurting.  He just might be expecting the same from you.  Maybe He is asking you to be brave, to be strong and courageous, to be faithful no matter what.  Maybe He is asking you to set aside the ways you used to do things and reinvent the wheel – maybe just maybe you were on a path that suited your needs but not His needs.

That’s what I believe for myself.
He is training me up in the way that HE wants me to go.

You better believe I’m not going to stop praying for God to take my pain, if it is His will.  One of my friends prayed for my salvation for SEVEN years, ya’ll.  SEVEN!  She was relentless.  And that’s how I want to be.  Not in a nagging sort of way, but in a way where I know that He is faithful and He loves me – and even if He doesn’t take my pain away, He always gives me SOMETHING.

A kiss on the forehead from my husband.
A text from that makes me laugh.
Encouragement that a choice I made or insight I shared actually made a difference.

After you pray, stop expecting instant answers – like instant oatmeal, it never quite turns out like you thought it would. God can see your entire future and for whatever reason, maybe it isn’t in your best interest to have a microwaved answer.