Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leviticus and Dread

Leviticus.  Wow.  One million rules to follow and another million rules about what to do if you don't.

Yep.  Let's just say that I'm not popping out of bed every morning excited to read my Bible.

There's a sense of dread accompanying my daily reading these days.  I could probably push past it and, with a little study, find some real gems in this particular book.  For instance, I'm sure the picture of the scapegoat (a literal goat) that once a year took the collective sins of the Israelites upon itself and was released into the desert to wander until it died would resonate deeply within me if I took the time to meditate on it.  Probably not gonna happen.

So there's a sense of dread to the reading.

I just want to get through it.

Be done with it.

I'm really looking forward to Joshua.

Yesterday I went to my Bible study on David.  We've been at this particular study now for several weeks and I'm loving it.

I love Beth Moore.  She has a way of getting to the heart of things.  I respect her because it's obvious she studies hard, follows God hard and has experienced "hard."

Not often, but occasionally, it feels as if she's talking directly to me.  Yesterday that was my experience.  

She identified for me the "something" I've been battling these last few months that I had yet to put my finger on.


I have been asking God to do something for me for ten years now.  And I'm realizing He's got something else in mind.  Something I dread.

Beth put it this way, "You are begging for God to do X - and He's determined to do Y."

I've always hated algebra.

Spent many hours wrestling with those nasty little variables.

Beth reminded me yesterday that Jesus understands this feeling of dread.  He experienced dread in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Dread unlike anything I could ever imagine.

But here's the key - and this is what struck me from Beth's teaching - Jesus knew what was coming for like YEARS before it actually happened.  And he was still able to walk with confidence and purpose - free from the dread of what was to come.

He wasn't paralyzed by it.

In fact, he didn't allow Himself to experience dread until the night of His arrest - in the Garden of Gethsemane.  That night He fell on His face before God and poured His heart out - His anguish and dread over what was to come and His fear of it.  He even asked God to take it away.

He asked God for X - but God was set on doing Y.

It's safe to assume that Jesus knew before He fell to His knees and succumbed to the anguish in His heart that God wasn't going to give Him what He asked for.  God had something else in mind.  But Jesus cried out for it anyway.

Seems like the act of begging for release - for something different than what is in front of you - is understood by Jesus.  Acceptable to Him.  Acceptable to God.  It didn't offend God when Jesus allowed dread to overwhelm him to the point of terrible anguish and prayers for release.  It wasn't sin.

But there comes a point when the begging has to stop and you have to move forward.  I've had a hard time getting to that place.


The difference between Jesus' experience with dread and my experience with dread is significant to me because it's making me ask if at my core I continue to struggle with trust.

Jesus trusted God implicitly and that trust allowed Him to pour His heart out to God, then settle it and move forward - without the answer He had hoped for.   He understood that God's will had to do with a higher purpose... and He found hope in that.

But I've had so much dread in my heart, there hasn't really been any room for hope.

I know better.

God's will for me may not be easy, but I can trust that He loves me, sees me and will be with me.  I can hope that He will make something beautiful and purposeful out of the pain of my journey.

I'm going to try to move out from under the power of dread and into the freedom that comes with hope and trust.  And I'm praying... expecting... that He will meet me there.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm currently in the middle of Exodus and the (let's be honest) EXHAUSTINGLY detailed descriptions of the building of the tabernacle.


I know many, many people find the tabernacle fascinating.  Me, not so much.

Though when you think about the fact that these were ancient people... nomads... doing this detailed artisan work in the middle of a campground - well, that is pretty amazing.

Anyway, I'm pretty much just getting through this section of Exodus.  Glad I have my Beth Moore "David" bible study to work on.  So, so good.

On another note, some of you have asked so I thought I'd post a little update on my back - and use my blog as a way to process where I am with this right now.

Ten years ago I was told I needed spinal fusion surgery for a herniated disc.  I said no way (Hello... I had THREE babies at the time) and began trying other ways to get better.

Chiro - FAIL

Exercise - FAIL

Inversion Table - FAIL

Pain medications - FAIL

Massage - FAIL (but feels great trying!)

Yoga - FAIL

Physical Therapy - FAIL (has helped, but unfortunately it doesn't change my condition)

Spinal injections - FAIL (well, has helped some but again, condition is the same)

Decompression Therapy - FAIL

Prayer - ???? (jury's still out on this one)

Yep, I've pretty much tried it all and quite honestly, if there's anything else out there to try... I'm not up for it.

So, after ten years of struggle (and another little surprise baby boy) I find myself with a back that is now unstable.  I have several degenerative discs (most of us do and it's not always a big deal - but for me it is) and likely fractures in my lower spine with a condition called spondylolisthesis.  This means surgery.  And not just any surgery.  Spinal fusion surgery.  A TWO LEVEL Spinal Fusion surgery.  The very surgery I have worked to avoid all these years.

When the surgeon made this clear to me a few weeks ago, I felt my old "friend" Anxiety/Depression creeping back into my life.

I like to call him Sven.

It's been a difficult few weeks with Sven hanging around.  Makes being a busy mom of four rather challenging.

To top it all off, I woke up a few weeks ago in the early hours of the morning to find both of my legs numb and heavy.

Um, that's terrifying.

My left leg came back to life right away, but I have struggled over the last five weeks to regain the strength/feeling in my right leg.  This last round of injections has definitely helped, but the leg continues to give me trouble.

I have hoped that I can put this surgery off another few years so that little David can be in school and protected from the trauma/drama of Mommy being out of commission for several weeks (more likely, several months).  Plus, it'll be easier for me to recover if I don't have the pressure of caring for a toddler.

We'll see how the leg fares and hope for the best.

In the meantime, Sven's not so welcome presence has become more and more of a burden.

I've thought (and been told by docs) that anxiety/depression is to be expected after years of chronic pain and with the disappointing news that I've gotten worse and not better.

But even with the help of an anti-depressant, I've continued to struggle and have wondered why.

Then, this weekend - in a Facebook conversation with one of my AMAZING physical therapists - I was hit with a truth that struck the core of me.

She said (among other things), "I just hope you aren't looking at (this) surgery as failure..."

This message came through on my phone as I was pushing my grocery cart through Wal-Mart.  And all of a sudden... tears.

Those of you who really know me know tears are rare.

And these tears took me by surprise.

She was right.

I did (DO) see this surgery as failure.  A personal failure.

I feel like I have been unable to get better and so have failed my children - my husband.

Wow.  How broken is that?

Once again, I am faced with my core struggles.

Control.  Perfectionism.  Self-sufficiency.

I have believed that I could fix this.  I SHOULD fix this.

Isn't it amazing how the belief systems that I created as the co-dependent child of an alcoholic continue to haunt me in my adult life?

I have been through countless hours of counseling and recovery.

I have read books.  I have grieved.  I have "let go."

And here, in the middle of a completely separate issue, Sven rears his ugly, but very familiar head and catches me off-guard.

Kinda like that monthly cycle that you always know is coming and yet you always find yourself "surprised" when it shows up (sorry, guys - just couldn't think of a better comparison).

At 42, there's still that kid in me that decided it was her job to fix things at home.  Make sure everyone was okay.  Keep dad at bay.

Now, the truth is that kid is a MUCH smaller part of me.  I'm grateful for that.

But I'm hoping for more.  And I believe more is possible.  I know God sees me and understands me.  I trust that He will continue to work in me.

I also believe that as He works, Sven's visits will come less frequently and have less of an impact on me.

In the meantime, I'm thankful for the insight of those around me that help me recognize the things I miss on this journey.  Thanks, Maegan.

I'm going to process this new revelation as I walk through what's next with my back.

Be intentional about reminding myself I have no control here (something that is VERY difficult for me to do).

Accept this journey as part of God's plan for me - even though I don't understand it.  I really do trust that He will bring something good out of it.  Not just for me.  For my children.  For my husband.  Maybe for others as well.

And I hope, as I walk through it, Sven will let go and move on.

I've had enough of him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Darkness That Can Be Felt

Just finished reading the Great Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  I never get tired of that story.  The boys have been reading it as well and it's been great discussion material.  We've been wanting to watch The Prince of Egypt this week, but so far it's been too busy around here for a movie.  Maybe this weekend.

One of the things that struck me with this reading was "The Plague of Darkness."  I noticed that when the Lord instructed Moses to stretch out his hand so that darkness would spread over Egypt, he called it, "... darkness that can be felt."

Now, as a child I was never really afraid of the dark.  I mean, I had a pretty wild imagination and I remember being afraid of crocodiles under my bed and giant spiders on my wall... but quite honestly, I had bigger fish to fry as a kid.  The dark wasn't too big of a deal.

But I see now that this was a different kind of dark.

You could FEEL it.

It was a physical darkness, yes.  But if you could feel it, then it must have been darkness that was so deep and heavy the effect was also emotional and spiritual.

And yes, I'm afraid of that kind of dark.

It's the kind of dark that can crush you.  Fear settles in on you and despair is quick to follow.

You cry out but the darkness is like a vacuum and you're sure no one can hear you.

I know that kind of darkness.  I've experienced it.  And so I can understand how this particular plague would've driven the Egyptians to a place of complete and total despair.

I wish we could get an aerial view of Egypt at this moment in time.

I can imagine what it might look like.

Complete and total darkness with the exception of one small area.

The Israelite camp.

There - there was light.  And hope.

It was right next to them so don't you think that if the Egyptians could've seen it, they would have run to it?

I would have.

In the midst of my own seasons of darkness, I have found myself searching for light to penetrate the heavy, suffocating dark.

And in every circumstance, it has always been right next to me.  I just had to run to it.


He is the light.

He is MY light.

I still experience darkness.

We live in a broken world and we are broken people so darkness will come.

But His light always dispels the darkness.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Moses and Me

So, three weeks later and my Daily Bible Reading continues to inspire me to rise early each morning and have at least a semblance of a quiet time before the kids begin to stir.  It's only about 30 minutes, but it's pretty much all mine and I cherish it.

The chronological approach has been interesting.  I'm in Exodus now and I love that what I'm reading corresponds with what Charlie is doing in our church's Bible Blast program each week.  I don't think that will last long, as the kids skip a LOT of the "who begat who" and so on and so forth in order to move through the main stories over the course of a school year.  But for now, it's been a good thing.

This weekend we're hoping to have a movie night and watch The Prince of Egypt.  We've all seen it before, but it's been quite a while and I love this movie.

I find Moses' persistence when face to face with God amusing.  He is determined to convince God that he's not really the best man for the job.


The Creator of all things.

The Holy One of Israel.

The Big Guy.

The Bible goes so far as to say that God burns with anger against Moses and at one point, He even moves in to KILL Moses, but Zipporah (Moses' wife) is able to obtain mercy on Moses' behalf and God backs off (the way she does is this well, a little wacky and far beyond the realm of what's considered "okay" these days - you'll have to read that for yourself).

Crazy stuff.

But I do that.

Argue with God, I mean.

God, you want me to homeschool?  Are you kidding?!!!

God, you're giving me another baby?  Are you CRAZY?!!!

God, you want me to say what?  Give THAT?!!

I wish I second-guessed God less often.  I don't know that it causes Him to burn with anger towards me, but I can imagine that it hurts His heart.

The funny thing is - like Moses, I don't so much doubt God as I doubt myself.

Maybe they're one and the same?