Little girl, Young Woman. Little boy, Young Man

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Next February, will mark the 5 anniversary of when my hospital nurse came to my room with a syringe filled with Epinephrine to treat a recurring allergic reaction.  A split second after she began pushing it into my IV, my life was changed forever.  My heart pounded out of control and my head felt as though the top was blowing off with each drop of medication.  As I screamed and then found myself gasping for air, darkness came and I thought, I am dying…

Now, I am one of the lucky ones.  The majority of people who are overdosed with epi step into the darkness as I did, and never come back out.  They die tragic deaths due to horrific heart attacks or have massive strokes.  While I have struggled mightily to recover, I have gained back some of what was lost.  Or, at least, have learned to cope with the differences my brain injury has caused in me. I am indeed blessed.

Sadly, while so much attention was focused on me during my first years of recovery, far less than normal was on our kids.   Our daughter Faith was just 11 years old and a sixth grader in middle school and our son, James, was just 10 at the elementary school across the way.  The morning of my over dose, both kids fully expected to see me home that night; neither dreamed I would be in a hospital ICU hooked up to tubes and machines unable to sit up or even give them a hug.  I can’t imagine how helpless they felt and how afraid they were when their world crumbled around them.

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Now there is no doubt that their daddy did an amazing job.  Phillip was rock solid and stable throughout those days, weeks, months and ultimately years as I endured endless doctors appointments, therapies and oh so painful surgeries. 1353177483299
And, my family our friends were incredible too.  Still, the stronger I have become, the more aware I am that Faith and James were left to struggle through times they never should have had to alone.  This aloneness impacted their hearts and their ability to trust deeply.  My condition scared them and left them waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It left them vulnerable to fears of abandonment and loss.  The overdose changed my brains ability to function correctly, but it also changed my kids souls from soft and pliable to hard and guarded.

In Febuary of 2013, though only two years had passed, it felt as though suddenly Faith was a young woman and James was a young man  While I had physically been present, I was so emotionally drained by recovery, they had grown up right in front of me and I hadn’t even noticed.  So much attention and focus was on me, that my  my kids had fallen out of focus.  Something had to give.

It was time to get to know my kids again.  It was time to let me see me for who I was including my faults and weaknesses.  It was time to start showing up, laughing and growing together.  And so, with the help of amazing counselors, we started to rebuild.

At first it was awkward.  I didn’t really know my kids any more.  The things Faith and I connected on before she no longer enjoyed.  James interests were vastly different too.  I was a stranger in my own family.  During the previous two years the kids and Phillip had rebuilt their lives without me as a functional member of the family and now I needed to push my way back in.  That pushing however was more complex than you could ever imagine.  Quickly I learned I had to respect the kids had boundaries.  Where they once came to me with their heartache their hearts were now locked up tighter than Fort Knox.  It was not a smooth process.   A laugh here, led to a smile there with a whole lot of blow ups in between.  It was painful and gruelingly hard for all of us. It was also our finest hour because we discovered healing together is a far greater journey than apart.

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Rebuilding something that is broken is incredibly painful.  Once broken, shattered, and scarred as we were, nothing can ever work or look the same as it once did.  However, it can be better and more lovely even with scars because they represent courage and overcoming.  Most important in our lives though, those scars represent trusting God with the most delicate and sensitive areas of our hearts believing he would gently and softy heal them.  Today, I can say without hesitation that is exactly what he is doing!

We still have healing to do.  There is no doubt about that.  It is with great anticipation that I look to our futures.  I see the hand of God working, healing, restoring and rebuilding.  I see his faithfulness and promises found in Isaiah 61:3 coming true.

To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored.


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They aren’t my little girl and little boy any more.  No, they’ve grown up a lot.  Our hearts are healing together and our hope is strongly resting in the Lord.  We’ve learned, there is no safer place to be!

Love,

Nancy

Open Letter to Tony Perkins

Dear Mr. Perkins,
I read your statement regarding Josh Duggars recent admissions of affairs and pornography addiction.

Last night we learned from online reports about allegations concerning Josh Duggar and then read his confession today. We are grieved by Josh’s conduct and the devastating impact of his pornography addiction and marital unfaithfulness,  Our hearts hurt for his family, and all those affected by Josh’s actions. His deceitful behavior harms his family, his friends, his former coworkers, and the cause he has publicly espoused. Those of us who advocate for family values in the public square are held to a higher standard, and Josh’s failures serve as a painful reminder of the destructive effects of not living with integrity. We are praying for the family.

With all due respect, I have to ask what you hoped to accomplish through your statement?  Headline after headline that reported on your statement read that the Family Research Council is now working to distance themselves from Josh.  Is this your goal?  If so, why?
There is no doubt what Josh Duggar is wrong.  Horribly, horribly wrong.  And, if I had to wager a guess, most of the world would have agreed what he did was destructive and wrong without ever reading your statement.
This is a real tragedy and my heart breaks for his wife Anna, his children, his extended family and friends.    It also breaks for Josh though.  He, some how, has become horribly caught up in a very destructive lifestyle that has likely destroyed his family.  That is not an easy reality to live with.  I believe you were his friend when he looked like an rising star but now that he has fallen hard it seems, at least publically, you can’t run away fast enough.   This really bothers me.
I can’t help but wonder how the world would have responded if you would have issued a statement that read a little more like this.

The Family Research Council was proud to hire Josh Duggar and brought him into our organization as one of our own.  Recently, some deep personal struggles have come to light that put Josh’s marriage and his own well being at significant risk.  We want to help Josh and Anna in any way we possibly can and are offering any resources they need to process this difficult situation and be restored.  The Bible tells us that the Shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to go and find the 1 who is lost.  Josh, you are valued by God in Heaven and you are valued by us too.  We are committed not only to the well being of your family, but also to you.  Just as Christ will never leave you or forsake you, we choose to stand with you until you get through this trial and find a firm, stable foundation where you can stand on your own again. You are not alone. We are here for Anna and the kids as well.  We know how destructive these things are and we are committed to supporting them in any way necessary.  We want Anna to grow strong and be able to trust, smile and thrive again. We want her to be able to sort through this tragedy and come out the other said with greater confidence in herself and the Lord.  We desire for your children to grow up sure in Jesus’ love and never failing forgiveness.  Josh, Christ died for all of us, and there is no sin too great for his amazing grace.  It is through that grace, a lot of hard work and dedication to truth we know you can make it to the other side of this very difficult time in your life.  We love you brother!

Now I’m sure there are lots of things I don’t understand.  But what I do understand is God’s grace, forgiveness and hope.  I also understand the need for us to rally to one another’s sides when we stumble and even out right sin.
Mr. Perkins, at one time you loved Josh Duggar.  You thought he was all that.  Your friend is in great peril due to his own bad choices and horrible sins.  You now have a choice.  You can be one to demonstrates God’s amazing grace or, you can be one to cast a stone.  There will be thousands who will rally to Anna’s side — and there should be.  Not many will be brave enough however to stand by Josh to help him dig deep to find out what has gone horribly wrong so he can be whole again.  Perhaps, the Lord brought him to work for The Family Research Council not for what he could do for you, but rather, for how you could help him during such a time as this.
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From one who was lost, and now is found,
Nancy Ruminski

A Wretch like me….

Yesterday the news went wild with the most recent story about Josh Duggar.  Apparently, he has led a double life.  Though he presented himself as a loving husband and father, devote Christian and family values activist,  he had hidden affairs, watched pornography and essentially did everything he publically spoke out against while hidden in darkness.  He issued a public statement calling himself a hypocrite and that appears to be true.  Some say I shouldn’t care about this.  But the truth is, I really, really do.

I grew up in a Christian leaders home with two parents who deeply loved me.  Though they worked hard to teach me right from wrong, I just didn’t get my need for a savior.  I kind of liked the draw of the world and felt embarrassed by my families sometimes rigid rules.  When I entered my preteen years, I began to rebel and started to push strongly against the boundaries my parents had put up to keep my safe.  By the time I was a teenager, boys were my focus, music was my god and I was determined to make the world my playground.

Now lots of things happened in my life between those teenage years and now that really humbled my heart.  Health issues, miscarriages, kids with illnesses and disabilities.  Dreams lost and forgotten, hope deferred, the lost of relationship with my younger sister, and frankly and even most important some really dumb decisions on my part that needed a lot of grace and forgiveness from others for me to recover.  You see, my pathway to humility and a true understanding of my need of a savior came through heartache, stumbles, bumbles and outright sin.  It came from failing loved ones and desperately wanting and needing their forgiveness… when I knew I didn’t deserve it at all.  It came when my life crumbled and instead of being haughty and high minded I was crushed.  Yes.  It was in my darkest hour that I truly found Jesus and I understood only with him I could go on.  Perhaps this is why I so deeply resonate with the hymn Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. 

Such a deeply humble line where a composer admitted from the depths of his heart that was truly despicable or vial person.   A line where he admitted he was so low, he desperately needed saving.

I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see.

Surrounded by the utter darkness of hopelessness.  No way out.  No way out without rescue.  I can’t do it on my on.  But now I see, I don’t have to do it on my own.  I can rest safely in the arm of a living God and finally have peace!

You see, being a Christian is not about having it all figured out.  It’s not about living a perfect life nor is it about looking down our noses at people who live differently than we do.  If you’re doing  that, and calling yourself a Christian, you’ve run off course and it’s time to step back, and reevaluate what Christ has called you to do.    Fundamentally it is understanding that your sin separates you from a Holy God and because you understand that you need a savior to bridge the gap between you and him.  Once that gap is bridged a process is started where you hopefully begin to grasp your own brokenness and stop concentrating on others.  It is a process of change from the inside that takes a lifetime. Old habits sometimes die hard.  Sin loves to creep back in.  You’ll stumble, you’ll mess up, you’ll outright fail.  Which is why walking through life humbly, honestly with a spirit of love, mercy and grace is exactly where we all should be.  Goodness friends…it is where I have to be because trust me I stumble and bumble through this life all. the. time.

I deeply care about Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, their kids, and their extended families.  I also care deeply for all those who will be walking through the fallout of the Ashley Madison mess.  As more marriages implode, and no doubt more will, lets be really careful to not react gleefully as many are on twitter right now.  Let us always remember we ALL need forgiveness.  We ALL need a savior.  We ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

Instead of wasting our time looking down our noses at people, leading pious lives or even worse falling into double lives to convince people we’ve got it all figured out, lets humbly learn from this situation.  Let us be quick to forgive, humble in heart, strong in determination to grow and always draw near to Jesus who saves.

Bring in the band…

A couple of months ago I wrote about my son James and how I wished people would want to know and love him too.  With ever word I typed, tears streamed down my face.  It seemed, his life, was destined to be filled with loneliness and rejection.  I hurt so deeply for James – and while I was so incredibly thankful for his one friend Ryan – I knew if new friends didn’t come soon he would again spiral into the world of depression and hopelessness where he is almost impossible to reach.

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In a somewhat desperate attempt to provide social interactions with kids his age, a little over two weeks ago, I “forced” James to volunteer with Faith’s high school band.  My hope was, he would connect with one or two boys and that he would enjoy listening to the music.  In my wildest dreams though, I never imagined what would happen…

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His main job was providing water for the kids in the hot afternoons.  Each day, he’d fill coolers with water bottles and ice and then refill as necessary.  Day after day James said hello and smiled at everyone who came by but instead of the kids just giving a polite hello back, often they stayed and chat with him for a moment or two. For the first time in many, many years, James was not invisible in the midst of his peers. It seemed the kids didn’t care that he didn’t always understand what they were saying or, that his answers sometimes didn’t make sense.  They were just kind, and grateful and it made a huge difference in his life.

The more time James spent with the band, I noticed he was standing a bit taller, smiling a lot broader and was far more independent in his job too.  Sometimes James ventured away from my side to go and say hi to the kids when they were on break and instead of coming back frustrated he came back excited.  One time he even commented, “Mom, these kids are different.  They notice me.”

It made me wonder…what is it like to live life not being noticed?  Not being seen? images

During our second week at band camp more and more kids talked to James and asked him about being part of the band.  They thanked him for his hard work.  They knew his name….they made him feel like part of them.  Interestingly enough, the more accepted James felt, the more calm he became at home.  Our nights at home were far more peaceful, his relationship with his sister became far more relaxed and our family time filled with more laughter.

Yesterday, James started high school…with confidence.  For the first time in his life, when he arrived at school he didn’t hesitate to get out of the car.  He instead looked at me and said, “Mom, I’ve got this.  I’m going to do what I did at band camp and I’m going to make friends.”   He then stood tall and walked into the school without looking back.  When I picked him up, he was with four other kids laughing, smiling and having the time of his life.  HE WAS SMILING…I cried

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In a world where status seems to be everything and ignoring people who aren’t like us seems to be ok… in a world where everyone seems to in it for themselves…in this world where slowing down and seeing, hearing, understand those around us is far less important than getting ahead I am so touched, impressed and moved by these incredible band kids.  They changed a life.  They changed James life.  It is not too much to say they may have even saved James life by taking a moment to care about him.

We can all learn from these kids and do the same when the James’ of the world enter our lives… can’t we? Ambition is great.  Accomplishment is wonderful.  However, I’d say recognizing the needy, loving the lost, and  helping the hopeless are much higher callings and profoundly greater purposes.  We have to grab hold of this and change this very broken world.

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“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I’m in…how about you?

Love, Nancy

Kick the crazy to the curb

All across social media lately, I’ve seen a lot of bickering.  Interestingly enough, most of it has been between fellow thRST4IIZHChristians.  Differing points of view have led to healthy discussions and then, for one reason or another, those discussions have broken down and mud slinging and out right attacks have followed.  Recently, I received a personal attack in response to a blog I wrote that was so vile I refuse to repeat any of it.  Why was I attacked in such a way??  Because I suggested we do not have to agree on issues to choose to love and respect others.

Really?  Choosing to love people who I might not always agree with warranted a hate-filled response from anyone???

Friends, it is time for a sanity check.

We are living in a world where evil is running rampant.  Isis is beheading our bothers and sisters in Christ when they will not convert.  In North Korea, thousands are tortured in concentration camps in the name of Christ.  ALL OVER THE WORLD PEOPLE ARE LAYING DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE NAME OF JESUS while we are bickering??  Please tell me why we are wasting time fighting instead of doing what we are called to do…love as we would love ourselves.

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What if we all stopped for a moment and instead of getting bogged down in debating the distractions of the daily news instead sought out opportunities to surprise people with authentic love?  What if we looked at the state of this crazy world as an incredible opportunity demonstrate amazing grace by forgiving quickly?  What if we stopped bickering long enough to pay attention to the people around us who are really in need?  Some will say I’m a pie in the sky thinker — and maybe in someway I am — but unless we stop the bickering and mud slinging the world will never see us as God’s authentic people of love.  The world will never see our authentic and all loving God.

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Let’s collectively kick the crazy to the curb and get back to what is important.  It’s all about His love…I’m in…are you???

Love, Nancy

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Is life really about just doing what makes you happy?’

Awhile ago I decided it was time to go off a med that was prescribed shortly after my overdose and brain injury.  After all, I reasoned, the only way to know if I still needed it was to dial the dose down and see how I did.  So, I dropped my dose weekly until I couldn’t drop it any more.

To my amazement, the lower the dose, the more the world filled with living color.  I felt alive again instead of horribly dulled.  Feelings of joy and silly happiness filled my heart.  Additionally, my opinions became stronger and more focused than they had any other time during the past 4 years.  It was an incredible experience to say the least.  After learning how to live with my brain injury and the limitations it has caused me, it felt like I was being given a reprieve from my sometimes still painful life sentence of living differently than I would choose.

Interestingly enough, my family was experiencing the impact of my med change much differently than me. Instead of joy and happiness, they experienced an overbearing, intense and, at times aggressive version of me. The flood of feelings that made me feel alive weren’t nearly as measured as I thought and, very unintentionally, were hurting those I love the most.

As Phillip and the kids began to give me feedback I felt very disconnected with what they were saying.  I didn’t see things like they did.  What they described felt foreign and out of whack with my new found joy.  Gently and consistently though, each shared how my newly regained emotional pliability was negatively impacting them.  As they did, I couldn’t help but remember my very wise doctor who told me right after I was overdosed that I would be very wise to listen to those who love me.  Why?  Because my brain no longer works like it once did which causes me to misinterpret or even miscommunicate when things fall out of sync and out of balance.

It didn’t take too long for me to realize how right he was as I bumbled and stumbled through the first years of my recovery making countless mistakes I still wish I could take back…

I knew I needed to hear my families concerns and weigh each with depth and seriousness.  Still, as I did, I must admit that there was a place deep inside of me that constantly said if you go back on the medication, you will never experience happiness like this again.

Now, in a world that constantly tells us to just do what makes us happy, the sacrifice of some happiness for the benefit of others (even family) seems rather upside down.  After all, being happy is of the highest value right?  One only needs to type happy into any search engine and the value of ones happiness over others is easily found.

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I believe our cultures’ current mantra of, “Do what makes you happy” has made us as a society incredibly self-centered people lacking high character morals of sacrifice, and living in the best interest of one another.

I’ve always admired Mother Teresa.  And while it sounds silly, I cracked open one of my books filled with her quotes as I wrestled with the idea of going back on a medication that surely would dial down my personality and turn the colors and textures of life that I was so enjoying back to hues of gray. As I thumbed through my book and stumbled upon the below quote I knew she had it right when she said,

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That day I called my doctor and asked for a new prescription of my medication.  That night I took my first pill.  The next morning a lot of the vibrant happiness diminished and by that evening I knew I was forever closing the chapter of my life in living color.

Now, it would be easy to that this post is a pity party.  Not even close.  Though I have grieved the loss of a more passionate life, I have found God’s gentle peace in watching my family thrive again.  I’ve found a quiet joy in the simplicity of my injured brain being balanced.  I’ve found hope knowing my kids feel safe, and assured.  I’ve found rest in knowing that my sacrifice has produced good fruit in my family.  Most of all, I am confident that through this experience my children have developed a depth of understanding that life is not always about the quest for happiness — but life is rather about choosing how to love well and sacrifice when needed for the benefit of those that surround you.

This silly brain of mine needs a lot of help.  It makes me utterly weak. I have discovered however that by “…believing much more in His love than my weaknesses…”  the door for me to find peace and  experience his love only grows.  There is no place emotionally than here, that I would rather be…

How I wish you would want to know and love him too…

IMG_0236Hi fellow moms!   I’d like to take a moment to introduce my incredible son to you.  He is wonderful.  He is my hearts joy and would be an incredible friend to your child.  He is loyal, funny and honorable.  He has an incredible understanding of right and wrong and would never take your child down a risky road that isn’t good for them.  He loves to throw a football…but isn’t great at catching it yet.  Practice throwing and catching with another boy would make his heart soar.  He loves anything and everything Star Wars and is a master builder in the world of Lego.  He’s also incredible at Minecraft and could probably teach your son or daughter a special trick or two.  Jumping on our trampoline and riding his bike are also things he really loves to do as well.  Most of all, James is an overcomer.  With all the odds against him, James continually defies odds and defeats prognosis.  Every word I just wrote is 100% true and yet my awesome son lives with only one real friend in his life.

You see, when people first look at James, they see a handsome young man and assume he is like every other typical teenage boy.  After a few minutes of talking with them though, they begin to realize James is not as “typical” as they first assumed.  Uncomfortable, most make a quick exit bringing their children, who were potential friends for James, with them.

The world of invisible disabilities is incredibly painful. images-4 It is a world filled with the dream of lasting friendship and the heartache of yet another one lost.  It is a world filled with confusion, insecurity and feelings of inadequacy upon inadequacy.  It is a world of always being misunderstood.

James has mild autism.  He is verbal, and deeply desires friends which is counter to a lot of kids on the autism spectrum.  However, his autism does impact his ability to read social situations and make friends.  He also suffers from a lower intellectual ability.  While not earth shattering, his IQ in the lower 70’s makes learning more difficult and problem solving painfully hard.  In a world where boys are growing into strong leaders, we were thrilled a year ago when James finally conquered the challenge of consistently tying his shoes.  Finally, in the last year James was diagnosed bipolar disorder.  Bipolar is a rough one on James.  The chemical imbalances in his brain make him very prone to depression but with the proper treatment James has done incredibly well.

Unknown-3Some, after reading about the complexities James lives with everyday have stopped reading this blog.  Why wouldn’t they?  Year after year, once mom’s of typical boys have come to understand James’ particular disabilities, have refused to let their boys play with my James boldly saying to me, “He’s a mess.”,  “I could never let my Joey play with him.”,  “While I want to help, I just can make Ian play with him…it would put too much pressure on him.” (Names changed of course).  I’ve heard it all.  Every rejection I take and hide deep within my heart hoping to insulate James from ever hearing one.  Every time I wish…oh how I wish… someone would take the time to invest in him.  And yet, year after year, hope after hope, dream after dream, rejection comes.

Just a few weeks ago, James turned 15.  He desperately wanted to have a birthday party at SkyZone or a local Nerf Ball gaming place but sadly, there weren’t enough boys for us invite.  Not wanting to hurt James heart, I made several excuses about it being summer time and how so many are out-of-town.  With tears in his eyes James asked me. “Why is life always so hard?”  As I wrapped my arms around his now 6 foot tall frame and let him sob, I didn’t have any good answers.  In this world, there are some, like James, who are utterly rejected, ignored and hurt.  Why?  Because loving them involves stepping out of comfort zones, giving a little more and sacrificing above and beyond and many these days aren’t willing to do that type of work.  Because we lost our way and forgotten that loving the “least of these” is good…so very good.  Because the pace of life and demands on us all has caused us to forget the beauty in simplicity, and the wonder of people like my amazing James.

My James is one of the greatest people I have ever known.  If I had lived with the rejection and disappointment he has, I surely would have given up and yet everyday he wakes up with a smile and the hope for new friend.  If you have a “James” in your neighborhood, or in your child’s school I’m asking you to please urge your son or daughter to reach out, and be a patient and a steady friend to them.  You never know, they might just find value where they thought there was none and grow into a more compassionate and loving person.  I know I have…and it is all because of knowing and loving my incredible James.  How I wish you would want to know and love him too.


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Ever-present help…

Hopelessness is powerful. It robs the soul of any light, and colors the world in hues of black, gray, and midnight blue.  A black hole, whirring and spinning, it drains potential, resources, passion and dreams.  Hopelessness consumes, destroys and plunders.  Its counter parts rage, disillusionment and death often accompany it bringing their own trifecta of misery to the table. Hopelessness seeks out those who are weak, alone and disenfranchised convincing them there is no way out, no rescue, and no peace.

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The first time I became truly acquainted with hopelessness I was still just a girl, really.  I’d left Mom and Dad’s home in an angry rage and was determined to never be dependent on them again.  Living in a dumpy apartment, I worked full time as a maid cleaning rooms filled with vomit or worse after party filled nights of wealthy high school or college students.  Every time I cleaned a bathroom mirror, I found myself staring and wondering what happened to me??  I once was a young woman full of promise awarded scholarships for my ability in music.  Now, I was without my family, in an unhealthy relationship, and spent my days cleaning up the messes of ungrateful people who never gave me a second thought.

After a particularly difficult day at work, my last enduring relationship disintegrated.  Alone, I sat in my living room sobbing.  I was so alone.  So incredibly alone   The darkness of hopelessness consumed me piece by piece.  Though I easily could have driven home and been welcomed home just as the prodigal son, hopelessness distorted my ability to even think or see clearly.  In desperation I found every pill bottle I had from prescribed narcotics to more benign pain pills and poured them into a bowl.  For the next 30 minutes I took pill after pill.  One, after another.  There was no hesitation, no regret.  And then, as the pills began to numb the pain I wondered if anyone would care about my pitiful life being lost. I thought not…

Yes, I’ve known hopelessness.

Hopelessness came visiting me again just a few years ago.  Initially after my brain injury I strongly proclaimed I would not let it defeat me.  I would, I announced to the world, hold my head high, meet every stare with a smile and never give up trying to regain all that had been lost.  As the days of recovery turned into weeks, months and then years, I found my resolve faltering.  I was so tired of the stares, the tremors, and the uncontrolled headaches and seizures.  Worst of all though, was the severe hyperacusis where every sound was amplified many times over.   Practically any sound sent searing nerve pain from the front of my head towards the back.  Sometimes the most innocent of noises, like the whispers of my kids, dropped me to my knees.

Again and again Phillip took me to the doctors but they all insisted there was no cure.  So, I spent my days hiding  away from any noise with either noise cancelling headphones or high tech hearing aids to drown out the sounds of the world.  It was a time of unspeakable isolation.  It was during this time that hopelessness came calling again…

My world grew darker as the vortex of hopelessness grabbed hold of me and slowly sucked me in.  Thoughts that I would never again be able to really talk to my kids crushed my heart.  With every heartbreaking thought, the colors of joy in my world faded.  My own strength and resolve crumbled.

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There was a difference between the two time hopelessness came calling though.  The first time,  I didn’t really understand the depth of God’s love for me.  I viewed him more like a distant creator who didn’t really care about my life.  The second time however, I knew Jesus not only as God, but also my friend.  I understood that he deeply cared about my pain, my suffering and that his promise to be an, “ever-present help in times of trouble” was true.  So, instead of falling deeper into the vortex of hopelessness, I found myself falling gently into the arms of my God who understood my frailty and gently reminded me again and again of his love.

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That day that hopelessness visited for the second time did not end perfectly.  It did not end in abounding joy or a dramatic healing.  It did however end with the light and truth of God’s love and promises pushing hopelessness back through,

Jeremiah 29:11

11 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.

For six more months I lived in hiding holding tight to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 as well as other promises of rescue and peace.  And then, the tide turned.  A new idea including surgery on my cranial nerves was offered and the hyperacusis miraculously fixed.  That fix however, came with a price.  Shorty after my surgery I experienced a stroke and now live with the impact it had on my brain.

Through these two very similar – yet very different situations – I have learned a very powerful lesson.  Peace and hope are not dependent on my circumstances being perfect.  No, my peace is found in trusting God no matter what my circumstances may be.

So now, when hopelessness comes calling, and believe me it does, I work hard to press into the promises of my King.  By no means, on my own, am I equipped to withstand it.  The nature of my brain injury alone leaves me highly susceptible to depression as the emotional areas in my brain are pretty dinged up as a result of it.  God’s love and his faithful promises are a constant counter balance to anything hopelessness tries to throw at me though. They restore the color and vibrancy in my life and never fail – no matter the circumstance — to bring me peace.

The tapestry of my life has many colors.  Colors that represent hope, peace, happiness, joy and love.  These colors that come in many hues and levels of vibrancy are evident only because of the Lord of Jesus that shines through me.  If hopelessness is calling you, rest in Jesus and he too will the fill the tapestry of your life full of his living colors for all to see.

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New Perspectives to share…

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It’s hard to believe it was a little over two years ago when I last sat down to write in this blog.   I was determined to leave the “Epicentered” season of life that this blog represented in my dust.  Perhaps more than ever, I am aware the events of 4.5 years ago are now forever part of me.  Finally, I think, I am at peace with that.

So, I’ve decided to continue where I left off.  I won’t regularly blog about the medical error that changed my life.  I’ve done that and feel, in essence, that story is told.  I will blog from the new perspective that life changing event gave me.  I really think this new beginning is filled with great hope and possibilities.  I hope you’ll join me for the ride…

Cover them with love…

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I remember, over two years after my nurse overdosed me, openly professing to everyone I how I would hold my head high and not be ashamed.  I remember trusting the Lord with all my might and clinging to him with everything I could.  I remember writing blog after blog from the depths of my heart processing all the loss and frustration.  I remember the ups and downs – the tears – the confusion and the anger.  I remember feeling out of control when we did not yet know I was having seizures.  I remember stumbling and falling on the way to the bathroom.  I remember depression so dark that I had no hope, no dreams, no joy and certainly no peace.  I remember.

Yes I remember so much – but as I am slowly emerging from the worst of this season of my life – I am realizing I also learned so much too.

Though it is difficult for people who haven’t gone through a traumatic, life altering experience to understand, suddenly being rendered utterly helpless shakes a person to their core.  The relentless cycle of doctors appointments, medications, therapies galore, rest, practice, surgeries and countless interventions, ups and downs…successes and failures…dreams realized and dreams lost slowly chips away at resolve and brings settled issues of faith into question.  Hope deferred easily turns strength to weakness, and resolve to a tender fragility.

The above describes the very real world of pain I have lived in on and off for the past two years.  There have been moments of incredible highs bolstered by incredible faith and other moments filled with such devastation my ability to believe seemed utterly gone.  Through those ups and downs I was committed to one simple thing.  I was going to be real in the midst of my story — through the good, the bad and the ugly.  After I thought, what did I have to lose?

Putting my own personal struggle aside, what has been the most interesting to me has been the reactions of others to my feelings through this very, real, pain.  Some seemed horribly uncomfortable with my honesty.  Others seems offended.  Others still fell into pat answers and piety.  One time, I even received an email telling to stop whining.  I needed to get off the pity train and get back to living the good life.  sigh.

And then, there were the ones, who have suffered themselves and know what it is like to be crushed deep in their souls.  These people, these angels in disguise, didn’t lord over me, or judge my questions.  They didn’t try to fix me, correct me or even sway me.  Instead they wept with me.  Their understanding of grieving with those who grieve brought hope to me when I thought all was lost. Because of them, I learned that we all can enter into someone’s grief and while there, bring the restoring, healing and comforting love of Christ into the midst of their pain.

I also learned we as Christians err when, in the name of spiritual maturity, we deny our struggles, suffering, confusion and trade it in for inauthentic and frankly fake facades.  In doing so, we miss out on  gifts [yes I did say gifts] that God brings when we are broken, crushed and confused.

Psalm 34:18  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.imagesCAS69O38

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds  up their wounds.”

Why would the Bible be filled with scriptures about how the Lord reacts to the broken hearted, if his heart was not tender towards them?  The Bible says, the Lord rushes to the side of those who are weak, confused and crushed in spirit.  He brings healing. He restores souls. He draws close.  He binds up wounds.  He strengthens.  He rescues. (such incredible gifts of mercy and love!) 

My life, two years after my nurse overdosed me, is living proof of all of these things.  Though I was devastated, I now have renewed hope.  Though I was broken, my body is healing.  Though I thought my life was over, I am finding new purposes, new dreams and new hope.   This is no small thing.  This is a miracle and evidence of Jesus in me.

Instead of shaming those who are questioning, those who are hurting, and those who are confused I have learned that we should rally to their side. Like Romans 12:15 says, we should, ” Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  And, just like 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, we should…”always protects, always trust, always hope, [and] always persevere”…with each other…even if our struggles are deep and our pain confusing.

Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroes.  She survived a Nazi prison camp and while there experienced things you and I can hardly imagine.  She struggled with bitterness, anger, confusion and hatred, yet she learned incredible truths in spite of her suffering.  Years after she was released she said something that has carried through the past 2 years.

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”   ― Corrie ten Boom   

I have learned, through my very painful experience, when someone you love is in a deep pit, you don’t need to fix them…you need to cover them with God’s incredible love

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