A New Course (turned upside down)

You’ve probably read the stories before…

Someone’s life is changed forever, turned upside down, and in it all—they continued to breathe, for at times that seemed the only possible. Yet living within the new walls of change, they strain in tears to carry on…a new path to be taken, a new mindset (perspective of priorities), renewing a sense of purpose while clinging to hope.

This, my friends, has been my past two weeks…but my story is still somewhere in the mist of all the change; it is still tossed by waves of frustration, loneliness and darkness. I am waiting for Jesus to speak, “Peace be still.” and rebuke the wind and waves…but He asks of me, where is my faith? I must answer that question and cling to hope—yes, God is bigger than my current woes and yes, it is okay to struggle through them.

The last week of February, one day before my friend was to visit for the weekend, I fell in the night as I entered the bathroom…not to say that the fall initially changed everything (because signs of left leg not holding weight had appeared here and there previous), but at that night, I entered full dependency.

Of course, this did not change me and Calli’s plans. We were college roommates and enjoyed looking at pictures from those days, a chocolate chip pancake brunch, reading, showing her around the area and a snow day, in which we painted. Crying when she was leaving that Monday, I told her, “God knew I needed you here.” We all did and as she left, my sister Megan arrives, then all the rest of my family over the weekend…and I held my sweet little nephew, until my arms fell off.

Yet my body continues to spiral, down. It has changed everything—it is not just my eyes or hands or intestines or legs and feet, but it all and that is where I feel overwhelmed. It has changed the way we communicate, responsibilities, daily life. I can no longer walk by myself, use the bathroom and do other hygiene by myself, let alone all from before anyway; most of all, vision. I am now as dependent on my magnified glass as I am my walker and others. That is the physical, but what I am challenged more so, is the mental. Realizing what I want to do and finish might already be complete in God’s eyes, thus He leads a new path.

I don’t understand yet what my calling is as I journey ahead—it is something that I am seeking, learning in new perspective…in the pain and sadness and confusion.

The hope in the storm: God answers. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


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On Being an Aunt

Just a few days ago, I became an Aunt, for the first official time that is. I have been “Auntie Mel” to three darling boys over two years now, as two of my closest friends have started families. Being an Auntie, by no means, compares to the responsibilities like that of the parent. However, I do have a certain extent of responsibility, even from afar or even when I am privileged to see them  on a visit. And I like to think that I take those responsibilities very seriously.

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Okay, so the silly faces was my idea, but I also felt responsibility to bequeath this knowledge of innocent silliness—and just have fun.

Over the course of these diaper days, I have learned fundamental basics of babies that has prepared me for my own nephew. Basics, such as, appropriate sizes of toddler clothes according to the “m” or “T” numbers; creative gifts for learning; and my favorite—kids’ books. Probably most of all, I am learning not to try and rush past these diaper days. They fly in time quickly enough already, but a week or so before my nephew was born, I got a few emails with baby discussion and note about the new Aunt responsibilities.

Perhaps the reference was a general one, but baby bliss had been in the family texting all week and we were getting anxious to meet the little one that my mind took to thinking of the new baby responsibilities. Living closer to my sister and brother-in-law, compared to my friends, I will hopefully be able to see my nephew more often. And this is where I realized my Aunt responsibilities—for now—are limited and different.

So I made a list and text it to my sister, just for clarification:

  1. Sit and hold the baby, supported by pillows, until my arms feel like they are falling off.
  2. More gifts (like baby shoes!)
  3. Ensuring diapers are well stocked (sort of personal inside joke.)

That’s it. For some reason though, the list bothered me…because I was focusing on how I cannot help. But that was never part of my prayers. I have been praying my eyes hold, in order to see the baby, as well as my sister, Megan, and her husband when they arrive for a time to meet the newest family member too. I still have sight, even if today was ever so frustrating.

I still have yet to hold you, my sweet little nephew…and I will hold you until my arms feel like they are falling off. As you grow, Aunt Mel’s responsibilities may indeed be different, well past diaper days. I can’t play with toys on the floor or read paper-back books or teach you the motions to most of the kid songs that your Grandma might teach you. But there is one thing I can do—something special that never changes. I can tell you why I love Jesus. And I can pray that one day, you love Jesus too.


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Pressing On

“So what did you do today?”

“I showered.” As if it were the greatest achievement, no sarcasm tone but more, “Yes, truth. Believe it.” Because on days  like yesterday, this was my greatest achievement—not so much the shower, but the  aftermath of getting ready. I now plan shower days according to what may be going on during the week and weekend, because it can be a full hour of my mid-morning. Yesterday it took even longer…I just could not coordinate. Huffing and puffing, I finally finish feeling as if I just came from the gym. I am attempting to get a pair of socks from their bin on the closet shelf; of course missing aim  putting them on my walker, Mom comes in and lends a hand. “It was more fun dressing your Barbies for hours as a kid,” I say, while getting help with my shoes. Some days are just like this.

At my doctor appointment, we had just finished going over my MRI results when my doctor asked a simple question: “How are you doing with all this?” (We discussed  in part my physical and mental aspects. I shared  more with him later as we talked final choice decisions.) My doctor genuinely wanted to know how I was handling the changes. I told him everything that came to mind of importance. Most dealt with the issue of running out of things I can do on my own.

“Sure, I blog and still paint (but need help there too), I tell him,”but I get frustrated that I can’t do more. Obviously at the time, keeping my own hygiene never crossed my mind, “But I need to be doing something, while I still can.”  That’s the thing about this disease, there is no pattern or warning—change just begins. Some changes, like reference to my hands or  intestines, are slower progression; even my hearing loss was such. Yet others, like my eyes are the  opposite. And even just since Valentine’s weekend, my left leg does not want to walk.

During the appointment, we came up with a list of things to help me—and the family, especially Mom as she is my primary help. One need on the list was getting more help from outside programs. I already have a home health care worker coming in twice a week, while Mom has things going on outside of the house. I used to be fine spending an hour or two by myself, if needed. After the way this last week has gone, that is no longer the case—and I know this.

I am not writing this as fact, but I know  the beginning stages of bigger changes. My left leg has been fully numb since my first blood clot. It just feels heavy and tight around the knee. My hip also pops on that side. My legs used to be the strongest of my  body, until full walker dependence. Then add current eye problems and weaker grip in the right hand. I still do well getting up from the table—problem was eyes adjusting before moving. Now, I stand and tell my brain to move my foot. Then, I start slow, until my leg is comfortable again at a better pace.

I don’t know where this is heading…so much change, yet already there is change in getting much needed help which ensures better safety.

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:16 & 17


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Baby Steps

Have you ever experienced watching a toddler taking their first attempt at walking? They may have tried countless times previously, holding the couch or a parent’s few fingers. Baby’s first steps might only be a few before toppling over back to the floor…but it is a moment of celebration and growth. The picture reveals happy faces and open arms of anyone that the baby is headed toward and the memory is cherished.  But baby steps cannot be planned—and it’s those moments you see transformation that continues…

I am well past those toddler days, though the tumors are causing my being to go back to those days in most aspects of normal adult living. But in the past week, with my balance starting to take more toil and focus, I thought how I have been prepared for where I am and how God planned it in baby steps of giant faith.

It started back in December, when I was struggling intensely about the changes beginning to happen and  the agonizing of knowing that I could not ignore the topics that would need to be discussed at the doctor appointment. It was my decision to only have an MRI of the brain and neck and not have a full spine scan. I only kept the brain scan to keep track of the optic nerves—which at that time were relatively stable as much as I could tell.  As the holidays continued, so did the baby steps.

I am not a dreamer, and when I am, I normally do not see people’s faces. At the height of my intense spiritual longings and pleadings, God gave me a dream of giant faith. I saw my Daddy Cory, an image of one of the pictures I have seen in Mom’s albums; he was happy and smiling, but not moving. In the next instant, I saw my best friend and her son (who is a toddler.) They too were smiling and happy and moving. My friend was telling her son something and then he moved toward me…I reached out and tussled his hair and gave him a hug; it felt so real. I woke up thinking—I am no interpreter of dreams, but I believe God was showing me that my journey on earth is not yet complete…people I love need me and I need them. After this dream, I started to think and pray about those hard topics, and had some good (tearful) discussion with Dad as he helped answer some of my questions.

And I started to have peace. I started the completion of my written documents for my file box. And I prayerfully made my decision on the only aspect of treatments left available to me: surgery, in which I do not have peace.

Surgery on any part of my brain or spine has never been an option, minus my freshman year of high school in which they knew the exact tumor causing the problem; they can’t say the same now. My eye surgery last September never touched my optic nerve, only the sheath around it because it was full of fluid.

Even before my neuro ophthalmologist appointment or MRI got pushed forward, I had made my decision and had peace: that same surgery was not an option for my left eye.

“I know my vision is fading,” I cry telling Mom my decision. Telling the family was the hardest, but I needed them to understand where I stood and my peace. I cannot say that I will go fully blind—that is out of my hands. The right eye surgery enabled my left eye more time…but my right eye never recovered. I might have different views of the surgery if I had vision in my right, but since I do not and know that I have been prepared for such a time as this, and God is still guiding my baby steps for the future, I have peace in my soul.

MRI scans show fluid in the left optic nerve. I knew something was going on inside—even my whole body these days. It is not easy, and even last night I hit a wall of being overwhelmed. But just a few hours earlier, my Grandpa reminded me, “Keep looking to Jesus.” Toddlers taking their first steps are not looking down, but ahead, toward the one with arms stretched open wide.


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My Written Name

“Ugh…there it is,” I say in almost disgust. Putting down my paintbrush I add, “This is what they get.” The signature of an artist is the finale of their work; it is like a definition, leaves no questions or doubt.

My once, simple written, “MEL” has now become a daunting task.


My eye and hand coordination has been altered. It is not just painting my name, but regular writing as well…even finger-poke typing. My eye sees the key, but finger comes down on one next to it; my eye sees the last letter written on the paper, but my hand can’t find the space next to it unless I write sloppy and large. (One can forget staying within the lines and I am finding permanent markers quite lovely—the black markings on my hands after getting the cap back in place is such proof.)

And for “MEL,” I have not known what to think. The markings seem contradictory to the artwork, as if painted by another. But in a sense, “MEL” written by my hands—shaky, off in lettering, unable to focus on detail—is like a definition, leave no questions or doubts of this fragile body that I am still able to live within.

Mom did help me on the other paintings…I held my brush and she did the name strokes; it is like a definition…leaves no question or doubt that we were not meant to travel or carry our burdens alone. Even though I have so many physical needs and someone is usually close at hand, I do often feel lonely– lacking face-to-face fellowship. A spiritual fellowship.

The other night, after a conversation with Dad about church and weekly fellowship that left me upset, I went to my room and sat by Muffy on the bed. I wrestled with thoughts, but ended climbing in bed that night praying about it.


“Flowers in the Rain.”

These past few nights, I have struggled, not just in the hardest of extreme physical exhaustion, but I know mentally and in essence, spiritual. “I’m battling it here,” I point to my chest in tears. I know this—it happens every time before an appointment with my doctor, as if Satan reminds me of my flesh on purpose. I think this time, he is doubling his efforts, because he knows that I find out my MRI results and that I have important topics to discuss and that I am going to explain again, why I have peace. Peace in the soul.

After mentioning Job, I say, “I sometimes think of my tumors in that way…Satan can have them. But he can’t have my soul.” I think that is why spiritual fellowship is so divine—the reminder to each other that we are spoken for: “Greater love has no one than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13


“Love is Blind.”

*Paintings posted on Etsy–Brushstokesbymel


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God’s Jewelry

Charming Charlie. If you have never been in this department store, then let me take a moment to familiarize you with the merchandise. Purses, wallets and handbags, scarves to socks to head bands, nail polish and lip gloss to fancy blouses and occasional dresses…and the heels or flats to accompany your outfit. Almost done—you lack just one thing, the essentials of accessories: jewelry! Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, all in an array of different shapes and sizes, lengths and combinations.

Yes, Charming Charlie is a sensation, like entering a room where you want to play “dress up” as you once did when you were a kid. But here, this is the real deal and everything is categorized by one basic agenda: Color. Entering is like Dorothy waking in the Land of Oz. I have not been in Charming Charlie for quite some time; I knew things would be different and was curious to see how I would view color. Stepping in tonight for some fun shopping, it was clear—I never left Kansas.

I am  not as timid at regular stores with lanes, but these small-focused stores, the spaces are packed with a variety of merchandise holdings…from circle and rectangle tables with shelves, racks and inlet wall cubbies and just plain spin boards that turn a 360. Mom usually holds my right elbow anyway, but I was so nervous entering and not seeing well with the store’s choice of chandelier lights that I said, “What a nightmare,” and told Mom just to go where she wanted and I would just come with her (obviously).

We just started at the first table. I could not tell the color, but Mom liked the bracelets presented and put one close to my nose so my bifocals could view the piece. “It looks sea-green,” I say. I was sort of right. Next, Mom fashion displayed a mint green purse; after that, as we walked around one-half of the store, I saw a strange lime-ish yellow scarf, a huge orange bag, bright magenta bead necklaces (they were pink), and blues—a bold cobalt shirt with white polka dots and a  small shelf that had scarves with blue patterns. Not getting much shopping excitement, Mom helps me to one color that I can see, we just needed to get to the table. Red. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

I used to be one for the accessories in my outfits—nal polish and eye shadow, earrings and bracelets, scarves and right down to the shoes (I wore mostly flats) and socks. The other evening, I sat in my black chair, after fumbling with my head bands in my jewelry drawer, and reminisced those days. Not that I look like a slob (and I still enjoy planning outfits), but the hair-do, make-up, nail polish and earrings…mostly forgotten or dismissed, unless special occasions or church (if time permits.) That night, I found myself missing that—“dressing up”—and Charming Charlie brought back some of those wanting desires that have faded from my routine, unless I seek help.

Mom did help make the shopping fun; she found a pretty red bracelet adorned with silver hearts. I am starting to wear more bracelets and trying to add red to my wardrobe, so the bracelet was a yes…the plain red scarf? Um, no. At this point, I knew I was not seeing much else and knew that Mom wanted to look more. We found a spot in the corner by a window, where I locked my walker and sat. Sitting there, gazing at what should be color but is brown-ish black merchandise, I think of rainbows. The thought has never occurred to me that I may never see one again. And I found this terribly sad..I already cannot hear thunder nor smell the after-rain. I still have lightning, I suppose.

This is still on my mind during the drive home. As we round the last part, I start to notice the soft yellow clouds forming, turning into a full sunset of bright yellow and orange. The view was out my passage seat window and as we pulled in the drive-way, Dad stopped the car. It was beautiful, full of color. Isn’t that just a wonder—I could scarcely see any color in the store, but the sky…it never fails my eyes. Dad parks and we are getting out, but discussing this contrast of experience. “It’s God’s jewelry,” I say in reference to the sky. This is where I have hope—that if I am blessed to see another rainbow here on this earth, I am curious, almost certain, it would be the boldest and most glorious sky an eye has ever seen. Because it would be a real deal for a color-blinded, extreme vision impaired girl.

Clothed in rainbows of living color

Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder

Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be

To You the only wise King

“Revelation Song.” Kari Jobe.


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Recharge of Strength

We didn’t watch much television as kids, but enough to remember cool shows like reruns of Little House on the Prairie, some cartoons of Tom Sawyer and show after school on PBS Kids. Let’s not forget Barney. The real kick to those earlier nineties specials were the commercials. Back then, commercials were more knowledgeable, funny and had a catch to remember (at least the annoying ones, such as Dentyne Ice). Most of all, commercials were informative . . . not just the medicine or medical ones, but the ones pertaining to us kids—toys and kid’s meal prizes. I’m serious. How often these days do you see commercials for the newest Avengers action hero figure or a Dora the Explorer prize booklet you get in your meal bag? Not many! The days of Tonka Toys and kitchen sets for kids, and Polly Pockets are over. And my favorite? Power Rangers! Who had it all, until the end—“Batteries not included.”

This morning, I felt like those Power Ranger figures, motionless and without their hidden powers. My mind was active, aware that the morning was on the move, but I physicaly could not get my body to follow. I tried once, but the pain in my neck was so bad that I sat in my black chair and tilt my head against the pillow, resulting in more sleep. When I finally awoke, the neck pain had diminished, but I was so weak. Even lifting my left arm to reach for a clothing item, I said out loud, “I do not have the strength.”

On days like today, when I fought to recharge my strength, it never comes from me, though I try, adding extra caffeine just for energy. It is seeming these days . . . even with a good night’s sleep . . . my body is drained and I sleep so much and that in turn bugs me, because I want to be filling my days. I am waging against contentment of what I can do and what I cannot do anymore. And this morning, the “Battery is low” sign flashed; I never recharged it with the Word and I did not receive any extra reserve in the flesh, because God—compassionate and loving, rich in mercy—showed me today, strength is not just the flesh. He recharged my strength in mind and heart. “He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:3a)

Never underestimate the power of a kind word, text, email, surprise snail mail, service or even a smile. Most of all, prayer! To know people bend their knees on my behalf . . . even my weakest joints reflect answers of strength I so often forget. And thus, I lift my needful hands.

“Needful Hands”

Jars of Clay

For those under the clouds
Staring up in awesome wonder
As tears come slowly down
I’m reaching up a needful hand
You are my eyes when I cannot see
You are my voice, see, sing through me
You are my strength in weakness beTo find that I could fall
And still your grace surrounds, pursuing
To freely stumble down
I feel your hands around my heart

You are my strength, my voice, my eyes
I lift up needful hands
You are my strength, my voice, my eyes
I lift up needful hands


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Patience (Is a Virtue)

“Yep,” I declare, while crunching my last mouthful of buttered popcorn. I now have Mom’s attention from across the table, so I continue my train of thought—“What I am tasting (pointing to my mouth still full of food), is telling my brain (then pointing to my forehead), ‘This is what you have been smelling!!’” As if Sherlock Holmes himself solved the mystery. I could have left the profoundness of the whole ordeal with that simple revelation sentence, but I blurb a few sentences on the note that my brain intelligence could be something that some psychologists might not be able to comprehend. Sometimes those prideful statements come out of my mouth without realization…even if it was a funny one.

One day has led to another and as January ended, today I saw how different puzzle pieces fitted together with something else I said after my MRI. Only a few days after my MRI, I started being open with my family about things on my heart and mind. We weren’t even initially discussing any particular health topics at first, but soon it came about and in an honest sentence, I say, “This disease is teaching me patience,” and without a moment’s hesitation I quickly add, “And I haven’t won that battle yet.” Indeed, even still waiting for MRI results, I have found myself impatient…more at unrest, I suppose—even though I will not be surprised by any news at this point and am at peace with other areas of decisions made beforehand as well. Up until this season in my life, I do not think I would have thought much about everyday patience—my own, much less others who care for me—or maybe it is now that I see how much patience from others I have missed, because I have taken it for granted, like a routine. It is no piece-of-cake to offer my own self substantial patience some days either. How much more patience then from others.

“Painting’s not fun anymore if you can’t do it yourself,” I gripe last week as I am restarting painting. I didn’t mean it, but the words still came out of my mouth making me feel bad right after I said them. It was yet another time that I saw patience in action and I was being humbled by it, knowing that Mom had plenty of other things she could be doing besides opening my paint tubes. Truth is that painting is more fun with someone—painting parties. I simply let my outside frustrations blind my view of this. And the more my body changes, the more I see this happening. I even told a friend when she visited for coffee and cookies, “I don’t want to be grumpy.”

Yesterday’s sermon was about Roadblocks to Joy. I had been emailed the notes, so Dad and I enlarged them to where I could read. Stapled ten pages later, I enjoyed the sermon—first in a long time. We were encouraged to read Philippians and see the roadblocks in our path. In finishing my coffee this morning, I found mine: patience, in my words and actions.

Love is patient. I Corinthians 13:4


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Blue Sky and Thinking…

I woke this morning, right as the sky was pale blue with soft yellow clouds. Opening my shades, I lay back down and thought of the new day…how the night before was so much physical pain that I could not even stand myself from the table after finishing my bedtime tea. Now, here a new dawn and I had been getting out of bed like normal, even though nothing had really changed in my body—except renewed energy from hours of sleep.

I dozed for another hour, waking to a sky colored magnificent cobalt blue. And I could not help but marvel at the beauty, because normally it is overcast with grey. I started thinking again…about color and my color blindness still taking place. I restarted painting this week, the lack of color distinction is frustrating. Tonight, I could not tell the difference in my abstract between the purple and the red. I had finished a request canvas and had lots of left-over paint. “I’ll just do a Valentine looking one,” I tell Mom. I titled it, “Love is Blind,” because that color blindness of red and purple hues is how it made me feel. Next painting, I don’t use similar colors; I’ll go bold.

So when I saw the morning sky,  a song came to mind: The  Color Green by Rich Mullins. I cannot describe really how this song fits so perfectly in what I have been thinking about these past few days. Sometimes I get so tired of having to think of my battles, yet they never leave me. But this song, so focused on the Mighty Hand of God, helps guide me past seeing my feeble hands and all other woes to my body. I obviously was not thinking of the song when painting, but it came back to mind when we climbed back up the stairs to the last of sunny day.

It may not glitter Green outside these Winter days, but I see Green as Life. And in all things—even seeing grey–that is worthy of my praise.

The Color Green music video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhGOosxTLrY


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Back to Greece

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

My weekend of traveling back to Greece started with this verse from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, known to us as the Book of Philippians in the Bible. I was writing my first email of the New Year to my sponsor child; I am given a section of pre-approved templates and verses to choose from, in which my letter gets translated to before being delivered. Out of my verse options, I thought this was encouraging for the start of the new and in my letter, I mentioned how I learned the verse when I was his age with a song that you sing in a round. I am sure just teaching him the tune would have made more sense than my explanation.

I had no more thoughts of Philippians–or Greece for that matter—until Mom asked me if I wanted to work on my scrapbook album of the time I spent there in May 2010. The trip was the last “Hoorah” of my college days, as we left a week after the graduation ceremonies.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime journey for me and to prove it, I took thousands of pictures (quite literally.) My apartment in Denver was walking distance from the best local owned tea and coffee shops and Hobby Lobby. No more needs to be said on what I enjoyed visiting during my days off work. Between the start of painting days and the good intensions of the Greece scrapbook, Hobby Lobby could not have been located in a better place!

Then change began—chemo, moving and more moving, and before you know it, I hadn’t really touched my album but a few beginning pages completed and I had lost pictures. What a mess. Christmas 2012 was the first I touched the project again, but spent the whole family crafting time putting my pictures in order. Another year later, still no album.

At the turn of this year, when I first started noticing more change in my body—especially my eyes—I realized that there were things I needed or wanted to accomplish…some important files that needed thinking and praying about, painting projects, my Greece album, sorting my books and things like this. I want to do them while I can—especially just spending more time with my family. So when Mom offered to help me finish my album, I was excited! Saturday afternoon, we pulled out my scraps of a scrapbook album, sort of processed, and set to work. Because scissors and tape are now out of my usage vocabulary, I would go through my pictures and place them on the paper, explaining which to trim and such. I found the ruins fascinating…so of course, most of my pictures have lots of grey rock. “Does this look like it is facing upright or does it go this direction?” Poor Mom. Sunday I had the thought to use my hand-held magnify glass—I don’t know why I didn’t think of it the day before as it helped with clarification.

After a wonderful Saturday, I woke Sunday sort of grumpy…I felt pressed for time getting ready for church and was feeling the soreness of my Friday blunder fall into the closet after I lost balance closing my bedroom door. So as we get to church, I am a bit frustrated at how my morning started, how I just sit at in the pew not getting anything out of it because I cannot lip-read the pastor and have no interpreter. I am sitting there thinking I could just be home reading my Bible on Nook in better lighting, a cozier chair and eating breakfast. But this Sunday, the pastor was beginning a new study series: Philippians.

Although there were printed sermon notes, I could not read them…so I just opened my Nook app and read the first chapter of Philippians and then found my mind traveling back to Greece, as the pages Mom and I had finished the night before were of the Philippi ruins. Standing next to the columns and stones, it was this early church body of Greek believers that Paul wrote his letter to and it became more alive in my mind as I sat in memory of what I was blessed to experience during my travel days.

Most important, I sat thinking of how the book of Philippians goes hand-in-hand with where I am right now in life. It is both an encouraging letter and a challenging letter. Paul goes on to say that he has learned to be content in any situation (4:11). I know that Philippians 4:13, “I can do1 all things, through Christ, who strengthens me,” is the well-known verse…but in this recent time of reading, I personally found the words “rejoice” and “content” weighing on my heart. I can do all things through Christ, but am I also content in any situation…rejoicing in any situation? Physical struggles are hard, but these past few days in those struggles, I have been uneasy in mind…because I haven’t fully recognized my state, “I need more help.” Oh, I can say it, but rejoicing and being content is another. This is what I am learning, reflecting upon and viewing through the magnify glass into my heart.

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