You are not Alone

I’m not going to lie and say that as I am writing this, I am in a good place. I am not. I am heartbroken, discouraged, and feel alone. Regardless of if there is any truth in my feelings, they still exist. They still hurt. I doubt, at times, that I am strong enough to do this thing. To be a wife, a mom and a worshiper with a horrible illness.

I hate this disease. I hate what it is taking from me and I don’t understand why I must walk this path, but who am I to judge. No one should have to feel what I am feeling, yet millions of people around the world suffer, some far more then I, so who am I to complain. I have no real right. No one should suffer, but is it an undeniable part of life.

It is in these broken moments, I must fall into God’s hands and let Him hold me. I need Him to hold me and so I surrender. I surrender to whatever His plan is, because I know Him and I know that He has what is best for me. I wish I could say I have it all together, that I can lead with grace and dignity all of the time, but that would be a lie. There are days, when I simple lead by surrendering with ugly tears and swollen eyes. There are days when I lay down at the foot of cross and just wait because when I can’t feel hope, is when I know I must rely of it. Not a fake hope of wishful thinking, but one rooted in an eternal promise that His love will never fail me.

To any one reading this, know that you may look around and see no one. You may feel completely alone, like no one really knows what you are going through. You may even try to put on a happy face, but trust me. God see you. He sees every part of you and still loves you. You are not alone. This pain is not forever, but for now, we must endure, we must persevere, we must hold on to hope and let God hold on to us. I am speaking from a place of weakness, which means simply, I am in the trenches with you. Don’t give up and neither will I. Let’s trust that God can use these horrible days to bring light to someone else. Together we can make it. You are not alone.

 

A Worshiper’s Lament……

A few weeks ago, I sat down at the piano to write a song, and instead this poem came out. At that point in time, all appeared to be going very well. Little did I know how drastically my life could change in just a few short weeks. I now reflect on this words that so adequately express how I am feeling at this very moment. I am amazed at how God works. These new developments may have been a surprise to me, but not to Him. I find comfort in knowing that.  I thought I would share it with anyone out there that may be going through something that is bigger then they can carry on their own.

A WORSHIPER’S LAMENT

by: Sarah Owens (C) May 2015

As I enter into the sanctuary

The weight of the world strapped securely to my back

How I long for a revelation

That could lead me from this place of lack

 

So sick and tired of living in desperation

The overwhelming sense of dread and fear

Wondering if there is an end to the suffering

An end to these pain filled tears

 

You see laying burdens down, it sounds so easy,

But what if they are stacked so high you cannot reach?

How do you walk away from overwhelming

When you are so overwhelmed you cannot move your feet?

 

These moments of uncertainty, when all seems lost

These moments of confusion, when I cannot bear the cost

How to I break free? How do I survive?

God can you see me? Am I too far from Your eye?

 

No, I know I’m not forgotten, forsaken or shammed

I know that love me, yet why all this pain?

Is there a purpose? Is this part of Your plan?

If so, please change it, for I am just a man.

 

Take this cup from me, for I am not as strong as you think

Or maybe that’s the purpose to show me where I weak

So yes, I am broken. I admit it, I am frail

Please Jesus save me, don’t let the darkness prevail

 

I need you, oh I need you. Each moment that is clear

Oh Jesus, sweet Jesus, show me you are near.

A life filled with hugs…..

Ok… I  have a  problem. I can’t stop googling. My previous warnings to myself go completely unheeded due to a compulsive need to know.

They found a mass in my stomach now. I am waiting on the hospital to schedule a procedure to biopsy. I have been trying to stay away from the search engine because I figured that the doctor chose to use really really big words for a reason, but alas, I am weak and a googler. 😦

In order to combat the raging “what ifs” that are swirling around my brain, I turned to scripture, specifically Romans 8:18-38. I have read several translations and my favorite one starts out like this: “That which we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal in us later.” Maybe somehow the trials we face help us become more “refined”. Maybe it helps us let go of the things that don’t matter so that we can hold on more diligently to the things that do matter.

Working in ministry, I have had the privilege of serving at many funerals. Never once have I heard that the deceased wished they had spent more hours in the office, or wish they had accumulated more stuff in their life time. In the end these things don’t matter. They will fade away like dust in the wind.

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When I get home tomorrow and I hug my children, I am going to cherish each second of those hugs. They will be more precious to me because I realize now more then ever how a rare commodity those hugs will be. No matter what happens with this latest health crisis, I will not live forever. No one does. I will only have so many hugs I can give and I don’t want to waste an opportunity to give a single one. I want my children, husband, and the rest of my family and friends to know just how much I adore them.

Step away from the search engine……..

When I started this blog, I wanted to have a place where I could share my thoughts and fears openly without the added stress of worrying about my family’s reaction. Over the years, the blog has morphed into a place where I can encourage myself and others along the journey. Tonight, however, I am going to go back to my blog’s roots, because I am totally freaked out and need to vent. It is my hope, that, someday, I will look back at this post and thank the Lord that all is well and I made it through unharmed.

So here it goes……

I have a rather large lump on the neck. It measures about 4cm in width and 5 cm in length. It doesn’t hurt and has been there for at least three months. It could be longer. I am not a very observant person. The doctor first tried the “let’s wait and see what happens” approach. It got bigger. We then tried to treat an unknown infection. It got bigger. Now we are trying the “lets look at it and see” approach. This morning I had an ultrasound. I am now waiting for the results.

The problem I have is this…I googled. NEVER EVER GOOGLE UNTIL AFTER YOU SPEAK WITH A DOCTOR!!! (this is advice for my future self) Just because you are crafty enough to sneak peaks at a tech’s notes about your freakishly large lump, doesn’t not mean you need to google those words to figure out what they mean. Don’t do it!!! Step away from the search engine. It won’t end well.

The tech said to expect the doctor to call me soon. Apparently my definition of soon and hers are completely different. I hate waiting. My mind always goes to the worst possible outcome and I find myself planning my own funeral and wondering if it would be tacky to write my own eulogy. (I’m thinking it would).

People get bad diagnoses all the time. Who knows someone reading this right now could have a confirmed diagnosis of cancer and wondering these same things. How do I tell my family? What about my kids? Did I make a big enough impact in the world? I think though, the biggest question might be “Why me?”

It sounds self centered, because it is. When you get a horrible diagnosis, I think you get to be self centered for a few minutes. Sometimes things just aren’t fair. Sometimes a young mother of three beautiful little girls, who devoted her life to serving Jesus, is told she could die, while some unknown psychopath has a clean bill of health and can live a long life terrorizing people. It isn’t fair, but that doesn’t matter. Fairness was never part of the deal. Life is what it is and, although I hate to sound corny, it’s what we do with our life that matters the most.

Maybe I should be happy right now. As of this moment, I am just a foolish lady that prematurely googled some scary words and, more then likely, that is all it will turn out to be.  If, however, it turns out that I won the sickness lottery and have both Lupus and cancer, I have to choose to trust that God can still use me. Trust that He is still in control and He still loves me. Trust that He will take care of me and my precious family. I can even choose to trust that I still have a voice and it is what I do with my life that matters, not how much of it I may have left. (easier said then done, I know)

Only time will tell how this story ends. In the meantime, I am going to have to chose faith; not faith in the outcome that I want because that would be foolish, but faith that God is with me and I am not walking this path alone. Otherwise, I might just loose what little sanity I have left.

Illness, Depression and Faith

depression

Having a disease wreak havoc on  your body is hard enough, but unfortunately, for people suffering with a long term illness, the mental battle can rage even more intensely.  Not being able to do the things that you want to do, not to mention the things that you must do, can make a person feel worthless as a human being. There are days when it takes every ounce of will power just to get out of bed, and, if I was to be honest, there are those days where there just isn’t enough will power to do even that. So I find myself asking this question: When is it the physical illness keeping me down, and when is it depression?

There is nothing trivial about depression. It can be an illness all by itself, but depression can also be a sign that we have lost the will to fight,  and that we have stopped believing  in the value of our own existence. If this sounds like you,  then know that despite how you currently feel, you are not alone. According to an article I read on WebMD over 50% of people with chronic illness suffer from depression. It is a real struggle, but it isn’t the end. It can be overcome.

There are many tips for people with illness on battling depression, but before you can deal with it, you have to admit that it is happening. I think that this is difficult for me because as a Christian woman in ministry, admitting that I may be battling with depression is like admitting that I am not a strong enough Christian or that my faith is somehow tainted. I am beginning to realize, however, that this isn’t true.

King David wrote psalm after psalm describing the anguish in his soul, yet he is described as a man after God’s own heart. Suffering through something huge like a chronic illness means that we are going to have to reliy on a strength that is bigger then our own. That takes some God sized faith, right?

I know that on my own, I am unable to overcome this battle. It means, that I have to daily realize that my life in the hands of the Creator. I do not have time for the illusion that I can do these things on my own. I cannot be the leader God has called me to without Him every single step of the way. This has to include dealing with the depression.

Having things always outside your control can be so discouraging. Not being able to provide for your family can be maddening, but maybe just maybe there is an opportunity here for some Biblical sized, miracle producing faith. Having to literally rely on God to provide meals for your family, heat, water, or even a roof over your head is not for the faint of heart. So maybe just maybe I am not a weak as I feel sometimes. Maybe just maybe neither are you.

Feelings can lie, but God’s word never does. So instead of depending on my feelings, I will do my best to rely on God’s word. I will try to see myself the way He sees me. I may be tired, I may need rest and it is ok, but I also need to make a difference in the world around me. I can do this by being who God created me to be despite how I feel. I can raise my children to be difference makers, despite circumstance. If I can succeed in that, well then it is all worth it.

Failure Happens, whatcha gonna do with it

No one likes to fail, but despite popular sayings, sometimes failure is the only option. You may try with all your might and will to make something work, but, when it is time for it to die, there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is a fact of life. Don’t get me wrong, I like everyone else, hate to fail. I have just come to the conclusion that sometimes failure is an important part of life.

We learn from our failures. Sometimes its as simple as what not to do. Other times it can be more complex. We learn about grace, forgiveness, faith, and that peace that passes all understanding. Sure, we can learn this by reading God’s word, but until we experience it personally, it is just a theoretical concept we read about in a book.

If we live our lives afraid to make a mistake are we really living? Too often I think we look at failure as the end of the story. If we fail, all hope is lost, but in reality failure is just a new beginning. It is a new chance to move forward, take what we have learned and create something beautiful. These lessons that we collect from our failures will undoubtedly be a huge part of the foundation of future success.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Instead be afraid of not trying at all. Remember that no matter what circumstances you are dealing with, God is still in control. Every great person in the Bible failed at one point. It is what they did with that failure that made them who we celebrate today.

 

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Masks

Mask

These past few weeks have been very difficult. I have been very blessed and had a period of time when the disease was pretty much under control. Sure, I had some bad days here and there, but nothing like this. It is during this time, that I find myself challenged not only physically, but mentally as well. You see,  I have this unhealthy need for everyone to see me as strong, and it is very hard for me to admit  when I need help. I choose to wear a mask. I hardly ever let anyone know how I truly feel, or what I truly need. I guess I just don’t want people to think that I am weak.

I have gotten to the point now, in this latest flare, where I cannot afford to wear a mask. I don’t have it in me to lie and say I am good, when frankly I am not.  I need help now. I am not strong enough on my own. The good news is that I don’t have to be. I am realizing that now. I have a wonderful family and a wonderful church family as well. People have been so supportive and I am thankful for all their prayers and the physical help. If I had tried to hide behind a happy mask, I would have missed out on the support I need. I had to reveal what was really happening in order to get help. I had to let the mask down.

It occurs to me that these masks  we all wear don’t really do any of us any good. Some of us hide being “happy” masks like me, but there are some many different kinds of masks we wear to hide the truth of who we are. We do it for different reasons, but mostly so we don’t get hurt. None of us want pain, but unfortunately pain is a part of life.  Living a life in avoidance of pain is not really living. What if Jesus came to this earth and did this. What if He spent His time here avoiding pain. Where would we all be? I am beginning to think that suffering, as horrible as it might be, can be used for our good. It shows is where we weak, who we can truly rely on, and the things we need to change. If I must go through this, then I am determined to learn something from it so I can be a better person  and maybe, if I am really lucky, I help someone else who is walking a similar road.

I do not want this suffering to go to waste. Lord please help me walk through this with faith, mercy and grace. Let me be an example of your unconditional love and have the peace that passes all understanding, and when I am weak, Lord help me be brave enough to admit it to those who can help. I trust you God, and know that You make all things work together for  my good.