Monday, April 30, 2012

April Mind Dump

This month has had so many ups and downs and I haven't taken the time or energy to try to blog them.  But now that the month is almost over (just a couple more hours!) I want to dump a few things and memories out of my mind so that I don't forget them.  (Watch out.)

A week ago I had my first  IV infusion of Remicade.  It was very nerve-wracking waiting for the day to arrive, not knowing how my body would respond (some people have bad reactions, others are just fine).  The prayer support I had covering that day was incredible.  I absolutely cannot believe how many people are praying for me. ME! Little old me.  It's so humbling.  There is no way to express my gratitude for the prayer coverage.  Absolutely none.  God is so good.

The hours of the infusion itself went very well.  The nurses and staff down in Madison were wonderful.  The only reactions I had during the infusion were fatigue and aches from the Remicade being so cold.  A couple heat packs helped a lot with the aches!  After the infusion, I couldn't wait to get home and crawl in bed-I was so tired but that is definitely to be expected.  The few days after the infusion were awful...pain, nausea, and just completely wiped out.  The infusion has also seemed to re-aggravate my breathing and heart rate issues.  Overall, I am very grateful I didn't have any kind of severe allergic reaction.  However, I'm still very much not looking forward to the next infusion in a week.  Thankful God has it all in His hands!

In other happy news, I had about two weeks before my infusion that were wonderful! I was feeling the best I had felt in close to eight months! It was absolutely amazing. My old spunky, crazy, stupid self was back in full force. I had so much fun! And I'm afraid my family & friends were in complete shock and panic as they recalled who the real Naomi is. I was a wee bit really crazy! (Okay, I'm still crazy, not sure anything could ever take that away completely! :P) My younger siblings & I have spent more than a little time in front of Photo Booth over the past couple months and we die laughing every time we do. I spared you from the scary pictures. Just trust me that you don't want to see them.

Yesterday I felt the best I'd felt since the infusion and was (incredibly) crazy all over again.  It was so wonderful to be able to go outside and shoot trap with my siblings & a few friends, play ping pong, foosball, & dutch blitz, bake cookies, etc.  It was one of those absolutely fun Sundays.  The worship service that morning was wonderful as well...great truths about showing God's kindness to those around us.  I appreciate our pastor so much!  One of my friends' mom sang "Your Great Name" as well, which was just beautiful!

April held two birthdays (each with amazingly delicious meals!), the return of my sister who was out of state for a month, a trip down to Milwaukee with a big van full of friends to see October Baby, a visit from some wonderful (new-ish) friends, a big change in schedule at work, lazy weekends, card games, a beautiful wedding, visits with old friends, a big change in my diet, and a bunch more little things.  The weekends were by far my favorite part of this month; well, they are of every month, but especially this one!  They were filled to the brim with life, laziness, laughter, & love!  Good books, music playing from Itunes, sweatpants, cooking/baking, movies, Bible study & prayer on the picnic table, walks on the bike trail with my dog, writing, smoothies, grilled chicken, leisurely breakfasts, long phone chats, cleaning/organizing/decluttering, family time, worship with fellow believers, goofy time with family, and more.  God's continual love and blessing are so apparent, even during the most difficult times!  I so wish I had more pictures of these things but I just have this one of the grill-full of chicken I grilled for my brother's birthday.  Oh, and a picture from when my friends visited for a couple days and we went for a walk on the boardwalk in the Horicon Marsh.

God continues to work in me and teach me new (and old!) things continually.  If there is one thing He's impressed on me most this month it would be loving Him with my WHOLE heart and having that show up in all my daily choices: whether it's time, finances, or whatever.  I'm so far from "there" but I pray that each day I grow closer to loving Him perfectly and wholly. I'm reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan right now and it's an incredible read.  So encouraging, so convicting.  A quote from my Beth Moore study that I read recently is this: "If God's absolute priority for all followers of Christ is love--for Him first and others second--then the absence of such love is sin."  Wow.  Convicting.

Another quote I read in the study recently is a quote from Oswald Chambers: "In the Bible clouds are always connected with God.  Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God.  It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith.  If there were no clouds, we should have no faith.  'The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet' (Nahum 1:3).  The clouds are a sign that He is there....  Through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something.  His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child--God and my own soul, other people are shadows....  Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him."  All I can say is wow and amen!

Here's to May and all that it holds!  So thankful I can trust the One who holds it all before it even arrives!  He is worthy of all praise and love!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Power, Presence, & Peace

This little spot on the web has been awfully quiet this month.  Actually, it's been silent.  I have not had the desire or inspiration to write anything and there is very little to update regarding my health without sounding like a broken record.  I've missed it a lot though so we'll see where this little rambling takes me.

Snapped this picture at the Horicon Marsh while on a walk with some wonderful friends earlier this week.

Tonight I am blown away once again by how God intertwines all of life to show Himself, His presence, His power, His peace, and His love.  In the past few hours He has shown clear connections between multiple phone calls, prayers, Scripture passages, songs, burdens on my heart, difficult situations in my life, etc.  It. Is. Amazing.  My GOD is amazing!

Another thing that is so humbling is how God uses my own shortcomings, laziness, etc. for His glory.  I have no clue what I just said theologically there...or if it's even close to "accurate"; but I see Him do it in my own life so many times.  One way recently is through me falling painfully behind on my Beth Moore study this month.  One week in particular I just had no desire to be in the Word.  I hate to say that but I'm just being real.  Since then, however, as I've gotten back into it, so many days the study I was on for the day was absolutely perfect for what I needed then.  That day.  That moment.  That difficulty.  That victory.

For instance, glorifying God with my whole life has been hugely on my heart this year.  I mean, in a way that it's never been before.  I've been asking Him so often glorify Himself in and through me.  The study I did today was about the Holy Spirit and His power and presence in us.  One thing that stood out to me so much was at the end of the day's study.  Here is what Beth Moore wrote: "Remember what we learned from John Piper in our lesson on Christian hedonism?  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  Our soul's satisfaction for His glorification is a wonderful motive for requesting more of the Holy Spirit.  After learning many lessons the hard way, I want more and more of His Spirit because I want more and more of Him!  The flooding of the Holy Spirit will manifest in all sorts of ways, but God and His glorification are our purest motives, no the manifestations themselves."  The main Scripture passages she had us read were John 14 and 16.  Look them up if you get the chance.

This song went along so well with my study tonight.

The more I'm filled with the Holy Spirit and fully satisfied in Him, the more God will be glorified through my life!  It's not about what I do.  It's about what He does through me.  The end.

Another part of today's study talked about the Holy Spirit's help in difficult situations, relationships, personal issues, etc.  That really hit home for me as well, as I deal with all those things, just like everyone else.  There is so much power in living in the Holy Spirit if we would only ask for His presence and help daily, hourly, moment by moment.  I know that I personally so often forget or fail to do that.  Yet He is waiting to fill us beyond measure! (John 3:34)

These are two verses that stood out to me from John 14 and 16...

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:26-27)

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)

Why are we surprised or upset when we go through hard times?  Jesus doesn't say we might.  He doesn't say maybe.  He doesn't say probably.  He says we will.  The amazing thing though?  His peace will be there through it all. He won't leave us.  He's given us a Helper.

We are human. I am human. So human.  I don't nearly always respond in the right way to the hard, painful times.  I get angry, upset, self-pitiful.  I curse.  But He loves me anyway.  He picks me up and moves me beyond that.  His mercies are new every morning.  He hasn't given up on me yet and I know He never will.  He daily offers to flood me anew with His Spirit and give me the grace to pick up and carry on, completely forgiven and loved.  It's amazing.  Beyond amazing.  He is my Overcomer.