Bite-Sized Pieces

In Exodus 23, we tune in to the soliloquy of when God is instructing His people about going to the promised land. Starting in verse 20, God tells them, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. (22) If you listen carefully to what my angel says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.” He goes on to talk about how he will drive out the peoples before them. But verses 29-30 caught my attention:

But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

wild (1)Wow. We want God to do everything, miraculously, “right quick,” as my Appalachian friends would say (Okay, I’ve adopted that phrase as well. That’s how my mom can tell I’ve been in East Kentucky for four years!). But God’s not all about the right quick, the immediate. Sure, it happened in the New Testament, when Jesus commanded the crippled to get up and walk or the blind to see. It still happens today. But the Israelites couldn’t handle the immediate, and God knew what would happen if they did. They didn’t.

I think about my own body, affected by Multiple Sclerosis and lack of taking care of my body for so many years, especially up front. God probably could heal me with a touch. But He has told me that He won’t. Basically, He has told me that I’m standing at the edge of the ocean, ankle deep. I just want to run in, but God doesn’t want that. Jesus will hold my hand as I take one step after another, little by little, until I’m immersed in the water. I sometimes imagine the Holy Spirit as water. If we’re standing in the water, we still have the majority of control. But once we’re immersed, the ocean can take us where it will. [Song: Oceans] God told me that I will not get knocked over by the waves, though they come against me. I realize that if I were to run into the ocean, I would fall almost immediately. There’s a reason I’m being healed little by little.

Here is some proof I have: One of my first symptoms of MS was a lack of fine touch. I have that now, and I can do my daughter’s hair! I mean, she’s a wiggly toddler now, but I CAN do it. (Especially if I’m tag-teaming with someone else who distracts her!) That happened last September. I thought more things would be happening immediately then, but I know better now.

Most recent proof? I usually stop drinking water between 6 and 7 at night, because otherwise it’s 3+ trips to the bathroom. I am straight-cathed every day. It used to be multiple times a day, but now amounts are way less! A year ago, we were getting 250 CC’s each time. Now? Anywhere from 180 (if I’ve been hydrating) to 80! I drank water until after 9 pm last night, and I ONLY GOT UP ONCE. And that was about the time my taking-medicine-before-bed stuff runs through my system. I am now being cathed once daily, and it has recently been 100 CC’s most days. God is healing my bladder!

Every day, I pray, “Thank you, God, for my healing and restoration!” I believe I have been healed by the Spirit. I am no longer hospitalized for strep or a cold, as I was soon before and after Lydia was born. I have scripture plastered on my bathroom wall with post-its and pieces of paper taped up (my bathroom is the only inner room I could find in my house that I could get at. See the movie “War Room” for why I do this).

Anyway, getting back to the topic I started with. God sees the big picture, and he knows what would happen if we all got what we wanted immediately. I have asked more people to pray for my healing and restoration, as well. God hears us. He’s told me so!

Press on, friends! God has everything under control!

Anna

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Battle Plan: attitudes and freedom from the past

It hurts my heart to see girlfriends of mine making choices that I see could potentially lead to disaster. A wrong attitude, an inward focus, a selfish heart, and an ego too big. But what can I do? I would do all I can to prevent these things from happening, especially without offending my friend. I have really been diving into spiritual warfare lately. I have found that I am able to not only fight for myself, but my friends and family, too! I composed this plan in the middle of the night, and even though there are names I am praying about, I am excited to watch God take those names down so I can pray for other things. Here is my plan:

 

  • Christ led us into a new form of warfare far more effective than guns and tanks. We have weapons of grace, mercy, love, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. – Beth Moore
  • Sisters: life is so much more than you wallow in!

 

  • I pray that your will lines up with God’s, because Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed be the pure of heart, for they will see the kingdom of God.”
  • A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13
  • A good woman brings forth good things out of the good stored up in her, and an evil woman brings up evil things that are stored up in her. Matthew 12:35

 

  • Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Hello

  • The past should not be a place where we live, but something from which we learn. – Stormie Omartian
  • Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
  • God is a Redeemer and a Restorer. He can redeem the past and restore what was lost.
    • Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. Psalm 90:15
  • We can never move out of the present into the future of what God has for us if we cling to the past.
  • Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
  • He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

Mourning into Dancing: Life lessons from David

I’ve been studying the life of David by reading the book, “A Heart Like His” by Beth Moore. This morning, I came to the part where Uzzah died because he touched the art of the LORD to steady it. God never wanted the ark to be transferred with a cart pulled by livestock, but carried by priests.

David met God with anger and fear. After he learned that Obed-Edom’s household was being blessed because they were housing the ark of the LORD, he had it transported to Jerusalem the way God had once commanded so many years ago. Every six steps that the priests took, sacrifices were made.

What a change of heart! We must allow God to remove our sackcloth of mourning before we can be clothed with joy. “I’m not sure we will ever be fully released to ‘dance’ before the Lord until we’ve learned to wail,” Moore says in the book. “You’ll never know the experience of being clothed with joy until you’ve allowed Him to remove your sackcloth.”

Here, I look at my own life. When I was diagnosed with MS at 13, I was a little angry. Well, I was in denial ‘cuz I didn’t like it. But I knew God had a purpose for it and I feared Him. When I was in college, God removed my sackcloth of mourning. I got involved with Cru on my campus, and I met and made friends there like I hadn’t had friends of the like before. In Cru, I joyfully fell in love with Christ like I hadn’t up to that point. I may have gone a little overboard, putting a Cru conference before my extended family (and now that I can’t meet with my extended family every year, I question wat I was thinking), but after college, I came to a place where I could celebrate and worship God all the time! I may not experience God like I did in 2011, but I experience Him more all the time! I may not feel God pumping in my veins like I did, because He is always pumping through all of me!

David brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD back to Jerusalem, rejoicing and dancing with all his might before the Lord. I may not be able to dance like David did, but I can praise like Anna does. I have a pen and a paper. I computer to type this up, and a blog to share my praises with you, the reader. David had a name for God in every area he needed Him. I will do likewise.

God, you are my Provider, my Strength, my Savior, and my God. You are my Fortress and Help in every situation. Glory to you, oh Lord my God!

Blessings,

Anna E. Meyer

My Battle Plan against Depression, first steps

Sword Spiritual Warfare2 Corinthians 1:8-10: 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.

I have been looking into spiritual warfare a lot lately. I have also been reflecting on my inward struggles and have decided to draw up a battle plan. My biggest inward struggle is against the depression and anxiety that try to control the rest of me. It has been since I can remember. I am at a much better place than I once was. The biggest current struggle now, is that the serotonin-deprived parts of my brain are trying to convince me that it’s not worth exercising or stretching every day. It’ll tire me out and prevent me from getting anything else done today. It might get better for a little while, but then one slip up, and I’ll be right back where I started. It’s almost Thanksgiving, when we’ll be flying back to Minnesota. Car rides and flights always set me back. Why bother? This is a lie I have struggled with for FAR too long.

This spiritual battle wages because we are given the power to overcome sin’s grasps when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. There is no battle when there is no opposing side. The Spirit of God brings us to life spiritually, but we still live in these bodies of flesh that still have a sinful nature. Thus, the battles rages—but victory is assured because we are in Christ! (Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:14-20; Galatians 6:16-17)

In Genesis 4, Cain gets angry that God didn’t look upon him and his sacrifices with favor as God did with his brother, Abel. God addresses it in verses 6 and 7: “6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’” God tells us to fight against sinful feelings! These feelings of depression and anxiety? THEY DON’T CONTROL ME!

Isaiah 53:4-5: “4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for out transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Here, we discover that Jesus went to the cross for our body, soul, and spirit. His suffering was not just for our soul’s salvation, but the HEALING of our soul, as well! He brings us peace—because not only are our sins on that cross, but so are EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, and everything we can imagine! Frustrated? Nail it to the cross. Depressed? Nail it to the cross. Anxious? It’s on the cross!

I know these are a lot of scriptures, but these battle plans need more than just words of mine. You see, the word of God is the sword of the spirit. And with the faith that we receive by reading these verses of truth, we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16-17). I shall continue.

The very first scripture I wrote was a time when Paul was depressed. So depressed that he despaired of life itself. In 1 Kings 19:3-4, we see Elijah when he is depressed. “3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom brush, sat down under it, and prayed he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” Here, we see Elijah in isolation. Depression THRIVES on isolation. Shame is in the driver’s seat when depression shows up. “I am no better than my ancestors who died in the desert before seeing the Promised Land. Kill me, too!” That sounds an awful lot like what I said earlier in this post: It’s not worth exercising. I’ll just go backwards, anyway. I’ll just have this disability forever. Ahh!

How do I fight this? I need to focus on God changing ME instead of what’s around me. In Matthew 14, Jesus is walking on the water, and Peter asks to be called out, too. Picking up in verse 30: “But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” Peter didn’t pray for the storm to stop, he prayed, “Lord, do a work in me! Reach down and rescue me!” – THEN, the storm stopped! I’m not going to wait until I get miraculously better or I “feel like” exercising or stretching. I can’t keep praying that I’ll “feel like” exercising and stretching more. I just need to DO IT. Because I know that when I take a step, God will be there to guide it. Peter walked on the water until he saw his circumstances and got scared. I’ve been scared too long.

I talked a lot about exercising and stretching for my MS in this post, which is definitely something I need to be doing. I have been dealing with a lot of other lies that this battle plan will help to eliminate. The first step of what I need to do is to straighten all these things out in my mind. Actions are the follow through of thoughts, and I need to start there. Instead of praying that I’ll get more work and that it will pick up, how about I start doing the work I have better? It all starts in my mind.

“…But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-10).

Resources: “The Depression Struggle” sermon by Richard Holmes; “Understanding Spiritual Warfare” by Tonilee Adamson and Bobbye Brooks.

This Post by a warrior in Christ, Anna E. Meyer

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND your ground, and after everything, to STAND. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” [emphasis mine]

I italicized all of the things we are to do. These pieces of armor aren’t just automatically on us when we become a Christian. We have to put it on daily. Just like you don’t leave your house without putting clothes on, why should we, as Christians, venture into the world without our armor? I am just as guilty as anyone when it comes to leaving without my armor. Simply speak it on: “I buckle the belt of truth around my waist, put in place the breastplate of righteousness, and fit my feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of God, our peace. I take up the shield of faith, as well as the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.” While you are speaking these things on, pray for your day! Surrender it to the Lord, who takes much better care of it than we can ever dream of doing!

How well do you understand the armor of God? I love the visualization of it so much, that I wrote it into my book a whole lot. It was fun! Let me share some of my notes on what the armor of God all means.

woman full armor of GodWe first buckle on the belt of truth. The enemy sends lies our way as often as he can. The world is full of it. But remember the TRUTH about all things, especially your identity in Christ! Next, put in place the breastplate of righteousness. I imagine this breastplate as one that wraps around my entire torso. Under the breastplate, you see, are our hearts. Our heart is the hub of our emotions, self-worth, and trust. Many have built extra walls around our hearts from past hurts, but the breastplate of righteousness is especially important. It ensures God’s approval and protects our hearts better than we ever could. God approves of us because he loves us—he loves us so much, that he sent his son to die for us! Next, fit your feet with the readiness to share the good news. Sharing the gospel with everyone you can seems like a daunting task. The word says that the gospel will reach every nation and tongue before Jesus comes back. “What if people respond negatively? What if they attack me, or sharing the gospel turns out to be a hopeless task? That’s what missionaries and pastors do. I can’t!” you say. Let me tell you: the footgear that God gives us is the motivation to proclaim the gospel of God—the good news that everyone needs to hear! Take up the shield of faith. Satan attacks us in the form of insults, setbacks, temptations, etc, etc. But the shield we are given protects us from ALL the flaming arrows of the enemy! Take up the helmet of salvation. Satan loves when we doubt. He tries to make us doubt God, Jesus, and our salvation, as often as he can. The helmet protects our minds from doubting God’s saving work for us. With the helmet, we can remember in our heads who we are! As you can see, all of this defensive gear works together to protect us!

There are two weapons of offense listed with the armor. The first is the sword of the Spirit. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Tempted? Trust in the truth of God’s word! The second weapon of offense is prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God, as if he is in the room right next to you! When you talk to God, you are strengthening your relationship with him, and the devil ain’t got ground to stand when God speaks!

To read more about the armor of God in action, check out Acts of the Apostles in the Bible or Saving Vindicity,” the book that I recently published!

 

Be blessed, everyone!

Anna E. Meyer

I trust Jesus more than I worry

He looked straight into my eyes. Even though there was much motion going on around us, he never broke eye contact. All day I could feel him looking straight into my eyes. I would always look to him, as well. When I was distressed about what this MS will do to me in the future, he cupped my face in his hands. “I will help you,” he told me.

“Will you heal me?” I asked.

“I will be with you, and I will help you through everything. Trust me?” he asked.

“Yes, Lord,” I answered.

Time passes. The MS gets better, then it gets worse. Then it gets better again. Even though I worry, I hear the echo of Jesus’ whisper. “I’ve got this. Don’t worry.” Even though I catch myself worrying at times, my heart beats with my reply, “I trust you, God.”

More time passes. I graduate college. I get married. New worries arise. Again, I look up into the ever-loving eyes of my Savior. As before, there is motion in the background, but I’m not looking anywhere. Suddenly, Jesus’ face turns into Doug’s.

“I will be with you, and I will help you through it all,” Doug told me. And I know it’s true. Because I trust my Lord, and he’s the one who sent my husband to me.

“What if the MS does something terrible to me in the future? How am I going to be able to handle children someday?” My frantic voice raises. “I can’t even handle myself!”

Jesus talks, and it’s Doug’s voice that I hear. “Read this verse, Matthew 6:34.”

So I do. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Doug looks at me with the compassion in his eyes that I know comes from our Lord. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, Anna. There are a million and one tomorrows until you even have to think about taking care of kids. By time that comes, you won’t even be worrying about it! You will just do.”

I nod my head as I pick up my journal, so that Doug can’t hear my conversation with God. I confess to Him my worries. I tell Him my fears. And then I give everything to Him. I even thanked Him for the MS, because I have to rely on God for my everything.

“My power is made perfect in weakness,” God tells me through his word. Oh, how I know it’s true! When I am weak, my God is strong. I asked for help taking care of my body, and he sent me a doctor-husband who is as sold out for God as I am. When my body is weak, God shows his strength through me. How else could I write such words tonight? 😉

Be blessed, everyone!

Anna E. Meyer

Miscommunication

Miscommunication.  I have been learning a TON about this in many different areas in my life.  It’s just better to get rid of it.  Ask for prayer when you need prayer, and share the reasons/circumstances if necessary.  Ask for help (something God’s been teaching me lots since 2011, I think.)  Don’t just talk louder than the other person when you don’t like what they are saying.  Tell them you don’t like all that negativity or (insert whatever here), and why.

The miscommunication between my mind and my body is super-duper annoying.  Sometimes, I feel that if my body could keep up with my brain, I’d have to be a super-energetic child with no “off” switch. Other times, my body feels like it’s an old lady that should be in a nursing home but is really too stubborn for her own good. When my body keeps up with my brain, it can last like, and hour, tops. The miscommunication is not only the maturity or energy of either body or brain.  (I’m told that I have a “childlike” spirit….and yet, an “old soul.”  Figure that out.)  My body doesn’t tell my brain that it’s getting tired until after the fact.  I did physical therapy for, like, a month or two—twice a week!  It was awesome.  Until we realized that the PT was doing more harm than good.  I AM getting stronger, but I’m having a harder time than EVER with the body/brain communication thing.  Like last Monday.  The air wasn’t on in our house, and when I got up to walk around and do things, I was real weak.  Well, looking at the thermostat, it said 78 degrees.  In the HOUSE!  (Heat is an energy-sucker, too.)  So I turned the air on, and chillaxed for a while until I felt I had enough energy to do more chores.  Bleh.

I have also been working on the miscommunication that comes with two very different people being married and living together.  I don’t always tell Doug when I need help, or would like him to do something FOR me.  I would wear myself out until he notices.  (But, I AM getting better at telling him when I shouldn’t be doing things—it’s that bodily communication verbalizing and the whole pride thing of asking for help that I’ve been learning since I started this blog.)  And now, when Doug notices something needs to be cleaned or laundry needs to be done, he tells me instead of leaving the laundry room door open or setting out the broom (that I would put away because I thought he left it out after using it).  See?  We’re getting better at that.  We’re also getting better at telling each other our expectations of events or the rest of the day.  Communication is really cool.  I think what has also helped Doug and I be overcoming this stuff so quick is that we were long distance until we got married.  And I’m still not afraid to tell him my thoughts.

Doug and I have both (separately) been doing this Bible study through the YouVersion Bible App called “Lord, Hear Our Cry.”  It is all about prayer.  I have been realizing that there’s a lot of miscommunication on my part when it comes to prayer.  It’s okay to ask for things, but don’t get discouraged! Sometimes, when there is no answer, I assume it’s a “no.” Sometimes, that “no” may just be a “not now.” So don’t lose hope when God doesn’t answer us right away! It’s not miscommunication, really. It’s not that we’re not communicating. Maybe it’s because we’re not listening (receiving communication). Or the answer doesn’t come as soon as we want it to. That is our fault. God hasn’t answered me about healing me of MS. Maybe he won’t ever heal me or any of my family members who have also been diagnosed with this icky disease. But it doesn’t mean I’ll stop asking. This is one area that I feel like I know the least about. Why am I writing about it? Probably because God wants to tell me or one of you readers something.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, emphasis mine)

Now. Going back to previous topics in this post, don’t be a nagging spouse. But maybe if you tell your spouse something a few times, it’s okay. I feel like my body has been trying to learn the same lesson f-o-r-e-v-e-r. But persistence isn’t bad. Okay, like many of my posts, I have plunged into a topic and have since left it behind. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve blogged. Maybe I’m having more miscommunication troubles with the world than I even thought. But, maybe not.

Be blessed, everyone!

Anna E. Meyer

Where in your life do you see miscommunication? What can you do about it?

Words

Words. I take them to heart, typically. I mean, words of affirmation has always been one of my top love languages, and I’m a writer. I like to encourage other people, because I like to receive love that way, as well. I mean, when people don’t say anything encouraging, I guess I try to let it roll off my back. But….that is MUCH easier said than done (it’s still a work in progress). In my small group on Sunday, we read all of James 3. It’s a short chapter, but we went two verses at a time, with much discussion and talk interspersed throughout our time together.

I don’t usually read scripture that’s in a blog post if it’s too long, so I won’t copy/paste James 3:1-12 here. Some of the biggest things I got out of it: The words we say are either a blessing OR a cursing; it’s black and white (there is no gray area). A fig tree can’t produce olives, a spring can’t produce both fresh water and salt water. Us, as humans, are the only creatures that can produce both life AND death at the same time (with our words!). James even goes as so far as to compare our tongues to fires, like the fires of hell! Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart.” Uff da. I’ll admit, marriage has made me more careful with my words, especially at home. As a med school wife, I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do to “support” Dr. Wile E. Coyote in med school, like everyone said was my job. I even freaked out a little bit because I just needed to know what that looked like. But then I realized, that I could just be me! Every time I encourage Doug, I see how my words affect him. If I’m crabby and in a pity-party, it’s a good thing he’s there to pull me up. And vice versa. If he’s in a pity-party about this or that, I take it upon myself to pull him out and give him a smile and a laugh.   Words. Get ready for some examples (because I like thinking that way).

Image from http://evanmoneyleadership.com/change-your-words-and-change-your-life/  (This is a good blog read, too!)
Image from http://evanmoneyleadership.com/change-your-words-and-change-your-life/
(This is a good blog read, too!)

While touring the Vatican with my family this last December, I rented a wheelchair (which was smart, because I wouldn’t have been able to do all that walking, especially because we’d seen so many Italian things already!). Every time we would get to some stairs, we’d turn around and backtrack until we found a lift that could get me in the wheelchair on another floor. To get to the Sistine Chapel, there was a very slow lift that could bring a chair down. The security on each end of the hall would halt all traffic for the wheelchair to get through, and then they would go again until another wheelchair came by. We had to wait a while for the lift, and I was just looking around. My sister, Laura, spoke up. “Anna, don’t you DARE feel bad about being in a wheelchair. None of us mind, really! Anna? Don’t you dare.” How did she know? Of course I was feeling bad! About how much strength it took Dr. Wile E. Coyote to push me up a ramp, or the fact that we had to backtrack so many times!? But Laura was right. Why should I feel guilty about having to use a wheelchair, when it was such a benefit? Yes, I hated it. I’ve always hated wheelchairs, because my dang pride is so big, and being in a wheelchair admits defeat. But really, it was the best thing. No, I wouldn’t have been able to walk the whole thing. Especially after all the walking we had already been doing that week, and all the walking that we still had to do in the upcoming week of our European vaca! Laura’s words meant a lot and did a lot for me.

The encouragement that Dr. Coyote gives me when it comes to my Mary Kay business is incredible. He believes in me when I have trouble believing in myself. I love the encouragement I get from my friends who are also in Mary Kay, as well! God is using Mary Kay to teach me MANY things. This includes the power of words. If I tell myself that I’m going to advance into this next leadership position, I will. But if I tell myself that I can’t do it, I paralyze myself and I won’t be able to do it. (Good thing I’m going to, anyway!)

I meet my friend Erika for coffee every Tuesday morning. It is SO uplifting. We tell each other about how our weeks are going, and then we’re just there for each other. I love our Christian fellowship, where we can just speak life to each other! I am always open to having coffee dates with more friends, they just have to respond to my text messages….. And when I tell somebody “We should get coffee sometime!” I am not one of those people who says it and then thinks differently. When somebody says that to me, I immediately want to put it down in my datebook. Because I LOVE talking with someone one-on-one. It’s where I THRIVE!

Words. Chatter. Emails. Letters, even. Love them! I am intentional about my relationships with people. God has been telling me this week that I need to focus more on relationships with people where I live, in Eastern KY. See? Even he says encouraging things to me.

How have words positively affected you? I’d love to hear some of YOUR examples!

The Spoon Theory

“The Spoon Theory” was thought up by an individual with Lupus. It always makes me sad to think about, because I don’t have to plan life as much as she does. She has to plan around her ability to button shirts in the morning or take extra time to look presentable if there are bruises on her arms or if her hair is falling out. You can view her original story here. Anyway, I was thinking about this as I read the article to Dr. Wile E. Coyote yesterday morning, and I wanted to create my own spoon theory. Anyone who is physically disabled or has an illness such as MS, fibromyalgia, Lupus, no matter how severe or not, can relate to the Spoon Theory.

spoonEach spoon represents energy that I have in my day. People who are not sick have an unlimited number of spoons, and even if they use them all up in a day, many are regained with a good night’s sleep. This analogy also works well with a gas tank, that once you run out, it takes another night’s sleep to gain it back. But for the sake of this post, I will stick to spoons.

I’ll begin this illustration by handing you, my reader, twelve spoons.

“Only 12?” You ask suspiciously. Yes. Only 12. Let us begin the day.

At 2, 4, and 7 am, we get up to go to the bathroom, so it is really hard to get up later. Luckily, I do not work in the morning, so if I don’t get up until 8:30 or 9, it’s okay. But I’m already behind. But I have 12 spoons. At 8:47am, I get out of bed. I get up, shuffle through the clothes in my closet, and get dressed. I go to the bathroom to take my medicine, brush my teeth, put on some makeup, and just in general be ready for the day. I then go and put a bowl and some cereal on the table, make a pot of coffee, and sit down to eat breakfast. Oops, there are only 11 spoons in our hands now. I was standing for much too long this morning. Unlike others who have central nervous system diseases, I don’t notice when a spoon is missing until I sit down and relax for a moment. You can see how this may be hard when I am go-go-go for too long. It also doesn’t help how stubborn I am at times.

After breakfast, I sit down with my Bible, journal, and cup of coffee to spend some quality time with Jesus. I love doing this daily for a few reasons: 1) It starts off my day with eternal thinking, which always puts me in a better mindset when it comes to other things. And 2) It doesn’t cost a spoon. : ) Then I go ahead and do some chores. I put some clothes in the wash, and I decide to get some supper started in the crock pot while I’m up and on my feet right now. If I went and sat back down now, I would not lose a spoon, but because I have all this energy and am motivated and already here, I shall continue—but I lost another spoon. After supper is started and clothes are put in the drier some 20 minutes later, I sit back down in my spot to rest and catch up on some writing or reading or something else on my computer. I have 10 spoons. I wanted to go shopping today, but I also have to work today. Shopping usually costs about 3 spoons, so I decide to go tomorrow. We’re out of milk, but Dr. Coyote will make eggs or something for breakfast for himself. Shoot, we’re out of eggs, too. “Well, then, I shouldn’t have done laundry and started supper if I wanted to do all those things today!” I say frustratedly to myself. I look at my schedule the rest of the day and plan it out.

I leave at 11am to go grocery shopping, and after I decide something, I’ll do it, even if I…shouldn’t. If I leave at 11, I know Dr. Coyote will be out of class in time to help me unload groceries (because I texted him as I left). But as I’m grocery shopping, I have to back track because I forgot that something on my list was in the second aisle, not the second-to-last like in my hometown. I skipped getting another thing that I really did forget on my list simply because I didn’t want to lose another spoon. I have 6 spoons when I get inside the hot car, and 5 spoons before the car cools down enough where I feel like I’m breathing fresh air and my body temp goes down.

As soon as I get home, I climb the stairs with eggs in my hand, put the eggs away, and sit down, exhausted, with 4 spoons left. I didn’t take as long as I thought I might, so it’s not even noon yet when I crash. I listen as Dr. Coyote gets home and heads right for the car, taking as many groceries in his hands each trip as he can. He then starts putting groceries away (because he is such a sweet guy like that). At 12:18, I get up to help with the last few things. I now have 5 spoons again, because that sitting break is exactly what I needed.

“What do you want for lunch?” I ask my husband. He has to leave for class again at 12:55, so that doesn’t leave us much time. Had I not went grocery shopping, I could have had lunch started, or even finished by now. I beat myself for it, but Dr. Coyote tells me to go sit down again, because he has an idea for lunch.

I join Dr. Coyote at the table as he finishes putting together salads on two different plates, thanking him for carrying up the groceries and for making lunch. We eat and visit. I still have 5 spoons left, but I think I can get another back before I need to go to work.

That is just the first half of my day, but I do have to plan a little more. These are some recent examples of some harder days I’ve had. But I learn from my mistakes. I haven’t always planned enough in my day, but I know what I can and cannot do. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn a lot of that through trial-and-error, but I don’t make the same mistakes forever. I’m not always aware when I’ve just dropped a spoon or took one away until after it has happened. Sometimes, I take tomorrow’s spoons by mistake, and have a harder day tomorrow.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote is learning more about MS in me and MS in general, as well. I share with him little bits, but it wasn’t until I read him the original spoon theory article that he really understood. Reading articles from the MS Society, I do know that people who have MS use 5x more energy than people without. We have to think as we walk. I have a limp, and need to lift up my left leg, even when it feels s o   h e a v y at times.

In an article I read by Cathy Chester yesterday morning, I learned that there are a few different kinds of fatigue. There is primary MS fatigue, which Chester described as “waking up feeling somewhat energized, then feeling tired in the afternoon and less tired in the evening.”  There are also different forms of secondary MS fatigue. Nerve fiber fatigue is when you are doing something, like walking or playing the piano, and suddenly your legs or your fingers feel weak. Both of these happen to me personally. There is fatigue of walking with a disability, which I have already discussed. There is fatigue caused by disrupted sleep. I have experienced this, as well, as urinary problems and other digestive problems have woken me up in the night repeatedly. To learn more about MS fatigue and what you can do about it, read the article I read yesterday here. I have found that planning, as well as rest breaks, work for me. I have jobs where I can sit while I work, and I have family, friends, and an amazing husband who will all help me out when needed. They don’t even know when they step up and rescue me, but God knows what I need and makes sure I get it.

I felt like I should write this so that my friends and family can understand me better. I have told this story to one friend, who had tears in her eyes as I finished, because she simply hadn’t understood before. I don’t want people to always feel like they need to help me, because I am independent and can do plenty of things on my own. But when I can’t do everything that one might expect, this is why. I haven’t completely understood how to explain, nor have I wanted the sympathy that stories like this sometimes bring. But I have come to a place where I would just like you to understand.

I’d like to hear from you: If you have an illness, do you have to plan your day around your illness? What kinds of things do you do to help yourself? If you don’t have an illness, does the spoon theory help you understand other illnesses better?

With love,

Anna Meyer

Poem: GOD Brings Success

Goals and expectations, I set them.

When they pop into my head, I take hold.

I try my best to meet each one,

Forgetting who really controls.

When I fail to meet my mark—

The one that I decided and I set—

Feeling like a failure, I cry.

But I am my biggest threat.

Why do I try these things myself?

As if, by doing more and more, I win?

I surrendered these things yesterday,

But today, I’ve lost before I begin.

“Those who don’t do can’t succeed,”

I hear it over and over again.

But all this focus on “me”?

It causes struggle now and then.

I can’t do anything on my own.

I know this to be true!

Which is why I need God’s help;

And he ALWAYS comes through!

We aren’t supposed to live the Christian life ourselves;

It’s only possible with Christ in us.

So why should I succeed myself?

This is what we need to discuss.

“May I never boast except in the cross,”

The Galatians are told by Paul.

We could never save ourselves,

Nevertheless with success, which makes us fall!

But when I give it back to God?

I let him do his work through me?

Then I am not the one glorified.

It is CHRIST, do you agree?

So may I fail when I try myself,

Because it shows my weakness.

But in my weakness, Christ is made strong.

And in HIS strength, we’ll joyfully confess:

To HIM be the glory forever and ever,

Amen!