Monday, June 26, 2006

God's Garden

Planting flowers is one of my favorite things to do, when God blesses me with the energy to do so. This past spring I spent much time preparing this flower bed and planting lots and lots of gladioli and caladium bulbs. I went so far as to alternate two different colors of gladioli and then surround them with the caladiums as a border. It was so exciting for the kids and I to watch as they sprouted and began growing.

Something strange began to happen, though. Another kind of plant started growing, too. Not knowing what they were, I began to pull some of them up, assuming they were weeds. Sergei finally convinced me that they were sunflowers, though, and that I should let them continue to grow. How did the seeds get there? We have a bird feeding station near this flower bed so the seeds were either dropped by birds or carried there by squirrels. Either way, I began to think of them as God's Garden. They have thrived and are now showing their beautiful bright yellow flowers - even the "mutant sunflower" that has about 15 buds on one stalk is doing well.

The flower bed looks nothing like I had planned on it looking, but that is OK. My life looks very little like I would have planned on it looking right now, either. I would have never thought of having a dozen kids if left to plan my own life ("I am way too selfish for that and not at all able to handle that many kids.") I certainly would not have planned to have a neurological disorder that the doctors have no cure for. Yet, these are seeds that God planted in my life, just like He planted those beautiful sunflowers. I am so glad Sergei convinced me to allow the sunflowers to grow. I am even more glad that God's plan for my life is perfect and filled with lots of "sunflower surprises" along the way.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pride vs. Humility

Having an illness that outwardly affects my body as much as dystonia does is proving to be a huge lesson in humility. Slowly I have begun to realize how sinfully full of pride I have been (and still are). I often try to hide the spasms when I am around others, which of course tends to make them worse in the end. I bought a cane the other day, although I have been very hesitant to use it. Why the hesitancy? My pride gets in the way. I don't want people to look at me and wonder what the "problem" is. I want to look normal (OK, OK, stop laughing. No one with a dozen kids at home looks normal, do they?) Mostly though, I don't want my kids to worry about me.

Last night during our family time I confessed my sin of pride to the family and shared my plan for putting off that sin and replacing it with humility. I have renamed the cane - it is now a "humility stick". Everytime I use it I hope to put off my pride and put on humility. I will most likely have to do that on a daily (hourly?) basis, but I know that God will be my Rock during this time.

A good friend wrote me an encouraging email and mentioned that my "reach exceeds my grasp". I have spent a lot of time mulling that phrase over and I now see what she meant. Indeed, she was very accurate. I am continually taking on more than I can physically handle. Learning to live with Dystonia is going to mean admitting that I cannot do all of the things I want to. I need to shorten my reach and concentrate more on what I can hold in my grasp. The strength of that grasp may even change from day to day, hour to hour.

Perhaps God has given me an illness that draws the attention of others so that I can shine His light more brightly. When I am weak He is strong. I need to keep reminding myself that people are not seeing my weaknesses. Rather they are seeing the strength God has generously blessed me with to embrace His plan for my life. I fail each and every day, but God's mercies are new every morning!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

In Need of Some Prayers

Dear Friends and Family,
I would like to share a brief prayer request with you regarding the neurological illness I have (dystonia). Twice this week I have had what are called "Dystonic Storms". Basically they are extreme body spasms from my toes up to my head. We were able to ride the first one out at home, but today I ended up in the ER with the second one.

Please pray that I will not become discouraged by these episodes and that I will continue to look for ways to share God's love through them. Also, please pray that the doctor in Birminghan will be able to give me some ways of dealing with these at home rather than having to go to the ER.

I also need to learn how to avoid these, if all possible, so pray for me to have the wisdom to discover how to best do that.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

These are a couple of photos that Sergei took on our deck. We love watching the birds, squirrels and chipmunks that delight in his blooming utopia outside our sunroom windows. Sergei truly has a gift for capturing God's creatures in photos.