Thursday, November 15, 2018

*DING*

I recently read the book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. Tony examines the ways our smart phones are changing how we behave, communicate and participate with those around us. This book is extremely convicting and eye-opening. He does not take the position that our phones are bad, or using them is evil, but in fact quite the opposite is true. He clearly flushes out the usefulness of our pocket computers. These high tech devices help us to spread the Gospel, be more productive, educate, and much more. Unfortunately, our constant connectedness can distract and distance us from those whom we are closest too. Essentially, the more connected we become the lonelier we feel. Where we used to go to the movies with friends, we now stream movies to our living room.

The book's chapters dig deeper into to each of the 12 ways Tony Reinke sees our phones impacting us individually and as a society. The titles of the chapters give a sneak peek as to what you will find inside:

1. We Are Addicted to Distraction
2. We Ignore Our Flesh and Blood
3. We Crave Immediate Approval
4. We Lose Our Literacy
5. We Feed on the Produced
6. We Become Like What We "Like"
7. We Get Lonely
8. We Get Comfortable in Secret Vices
9. We Lose Meaning
10. We Fear Missing Out
11. We Become Harsh to One Another
12. We Lose Our Place in Time

The book is well researched, and well written. It does not condemn technology, or our use of it. It does, however, point out real and present dangers that we should all be aware of. The book points out our Pavlovian dog response to the buzzes and beeps emanating from our devices. Our phones (and as a result we) are "on" 24/7. We are afraid we will miss something. We enjoy getting "likes". This can all be used in a way that can bring glory to God, but frequently it is used to distract us from our boring lives. It might be an escape for us. Our phones and computers provide an atmosphere in which we can portray our lives as something other than what they truly are. We feel jealousy and discontentment as we think we are truly peering into the lives of our neighbors and friends, but in reality seeing only small glimpses into reality.

Technology is a good thing. It is a gift from God, from whom all knowledge originates. Computers and internet have enabled me and others to blog, to share our stories, and the Gospel with people a world away. We have been given an opportunity to use a new, and advanced medium to reach others we would likely never meet face to face, and because of that, it comes with a great responsibility. We will give account for every idle word we have spoken (or written) one day. The distance the internet creates makes us feel safer to be harsher with people. We say things that we would never say if we were standing in front of a group of people. We watch things that we would never consider watching if it weren't from behind the anonymity and privacy of our own screen. This book gives us reason to pause, consider and evaluate our phone usage.

The book is well worth reading, and although it is written by a Christian author, and has a Christian bent, it's research is solid, and the message behind why we respond the way we do is important to reflect upon. You won't be disappointed, and quite possibly you will have your eyes opened wider, like I did.

Wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Until Next Time~
Shari

Monday, November 12, 2018

ODAAT

I like schedules. Actually, my life is full of lists and schedules. I even make a weekly dinner menu. Order and structure characterize my days, so much so, that some days you will find me doubled over in pain cooking dinner. If the menu says spaghetti on Tuesday, we are eating spaghetti on Tuesday if there is any humanly possible way for me to get it done. Sometimes, Chad comes home from work and just shakes his head in disbelief. "You know that no one else does this, right?" he asks.

Since I like things planned out (no surprises for this girl!) I begin each day looking over the week's activity list. When I was younger and healthier, I always got everything done. Now, I try to save energy for the days that have the most important tasks. The trouble is, ALL the tasks on my list are *important* to me. According to the Meyers-Briggs personality test my kids had me take a few years ago, I am "the duty-fulfiller" type. Basically, this means that I have a list of things that I need to get done each day. I push through to get every last item done, always have, and always......well, actually not anymore. Some days, no matter how hard I push, there are still items left on my to-do list at the end of the day, which tends to leave me feeling like I failed. (Yep, I got issues)

I have always planned my days and weeks far in advance, even down to life's least important tasks. I am a creature of habit. I do laundry on Mondays, clean each level of the house on their specified days, and grocery shop on Thursday mornings. Every chore, and even things like reading or art, are in my calendar in their official time slot. Chad also shakes his head when my phone buzzes every few minutes reminding me to do basically everything. What a glorious time we live in to have smart phones with reminder alarms! I used to write everything on a wall calendar, and use notepads for endless lists.

I have written before about managing expectations. Honestly, I am WAY better at letting others off the hook, giving them grace, and lowering my expectations of them, than I am of myself. I am my own worst enemy. I know that my list doesn't really matter. Although I like structure, I do know that if my laundry doesn't get done until Friday, the world won't fall apart. Honestly, I won't even run out of clean clothes that soon! If my life seems ridiculously organized, all I can say is that I am a LOT more laid back than I was twenty years ago. (Hard to believe, right?) Age, children, marriage, poor health, and most importantly, my faith in Christ have all impacted me in a positive way, and helped me to let go of some things. I have learned to cut myself a little slack. I am still a work in progress.

Lately, each day seems to start differently, unpredictably. I never know how I will feel. New challenges present themselves, and as Chad likes to say, we adapt, improvise, and overcome. I have been made more and more aware of my tendency to want to perfectly perform my (never ending) lists. I am a taskmaster. I place unnecessary burdens upon myself, especially now. There is nothing quite like completing a task, and being able to cross it off my list! I am learning that most of what is on my list is unimportant. I need to prioritize, but I also need to learn to let go. Everything is not of equal importance. It really is okay if the furniture is dusty.

I am trying to take each day as it comes. I can't change how I feel when I wake up every morning, but I can choose how I view each day. I am working to figure out why I am how I am, growth is an important part of life (although I am not a huge fan of change). For now, I am learning to take One Day At A Time (ODAAT). By the grace of God, I am learning to forgive myself, and give myself permission to "fail" at finishing my list. The Lord has been teaching me so much through all these trials, and most recently, He has been gently revealing the heart issues behind my compulsive behavior. My need to do everything on my list is a form of works righteousness. It shows my sinful tendency to want to do something to earn favor, or feel accomplished. It speaks to my trying to control things, which reveals a lack of faith and trust. All my striving to complete a list is simply futility. The good news is that Christ's work was complete. I do not have to contribute anything to my salvation, nor could I add anything to it. Jesus said, "It is finished." I don't need to run myself ragged over a ridiculously long and detailed list of chores. I need only to enter into His rest. I am grateful for God's loving correction, and His grace to live ODAAT.

Until Next Time~
Shari

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bruised

When people ask how they can pray for me, I frequently tell them to pray that I might suffer well. While I would love for God to heal me, to end my pain and suffering, and to make me well, it is not the thing I ask for most often.  No one but God knows how long this season of suffering will last, but I do know that I am called to endure, to continue to praise God, and to bring glory to His name. I want to be a faithful witness. In my weakness and my darkest moments, I cry out to God for strength, grace, and healing, but always end my prayer saying "not my will, but Yours be done."

I was given a book to read recently, "Holding on to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God" by Nancy Guthrie. If you have gone through a period of suffering, grief, or loss, get this book! She brought up a great point in the book, and it has really stuck with me. She mentioned that we seem to tack on the little phrase "Your will be done" at the end of our prayers, but really should start our prayers in this manner. Imagine if we could really give all our wants and desires over to the Lord and pray "Your will be done", fully trusting He will work all things for our good. Honestly, just go read the book, as I am not doing it any justice here! It is hands-down the best book on suffering I have read, and I have read a LOT of them.

Before I sign off, I figured it is time for some updates. First, I began my weekly IVIg infusions on Friday, October 26th, and will have my 3rd one this Friday. Side effects thus far are fatigue and a mild headache, although last Sunday I had a full blown migraine. Additionally, my veins aren't cooperating, so the doctors are currently deciding if I should have a port put in to enable easy access for the IV. It took 3 attempts last week to get the IV started, and my arms are very bruised, but I know that God does not break a bruised reed.

Hopefully, my body will adjust, and treatment can continue. I am really suffering, and this is the last line of treatment. With my legs, the main symptoms were numbness, weakness, cramping, loss of reflexes and balance issues, but overall not painful. Now that we realize my upper body issues are related to the CIDP also, it has helped me to understand some of my symptoms. While I do have numbness, weakness, and muscle cramping in my arms, I also have constant burning nerve pain in my neck and hands. The most painful aspect has been the random electric shocks that shoot down my arms unexpectedly. I remain cautiously optimistic that this treatment will provide some relief, choosing each day to not linger in the self pity and depression that constantly stalk me. Pray for me to continue to cling to my Savior, and to suffer faithfully. I know He will give me the grace needed to live each day for His glory.

The last thing to tell you about is a letter I recently wrote to the doctor (whom shall be known as "Dr. D") who performed my original surgery. I wrote three pages explaining everything that has transpired since 2009 when he removed the "tumor." I wasn't sure "Dr. D" would even read the letter, remember me, or respond. He was only my doctor for about a year, before we moved on to second and third opinions. Since he is at a teaching hospital, the letter was meant to inform and be used as a learning experience. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a two page hand-written response from "Dr. D" a couple weeks later. His response was sincere and humble. He admitted he should have done better at  following up with me. It was a cathartic thing to do, and helps me to close that chapter and move on. And so, I am moving on...

Until Next Time~
Shari

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Good Grief

Grief is a part of life. We grieve the loss of a loved one. We can also grieve the loss of what might have been. The loss of hopes and dreams. We all go through times of grief for things like this. Maybe an injury kept you off the baseball team that you thought would be your future. Maybe it is finding out your child will have special needs, and their future goals may be learning to walk or talk, instead of being the CEO of a fortune 500 as you had hoped. We grieve the dissolution of a marriage, or a child who wanders away from the faith. There are likely hundreds (thousands even) of scenarios that cause us to suffer a loss of some kind, and result in us grieving.

Grief can be necessary and even good. Grief is a natural human emotion, and a process that is as natural as living and dying. Grief can also be bad. It can be a state we enter into and never leave. We can linger too long and let sadness, anger, denial, and bitterness rule our hearts. There is a sinfulness in dwelling in grief too long, however, dealing with grief can be helpful as we come to acceptance, embrace the truth, and move passed it. This is not to say that there is not still a hurt, or a void left behind by the loss, because there frequently will be, especially if our loss is that of a cherished significant other.

Reflecting on all my recent news, I realized all the grieving that I have done, and am still doing. When I first had surgery in September 2009, doctors had hoped that they could remove the tumor from the nerve, and I would not have any ill effects. My surgery that day lasted 8 hours. Just moments after waking up enough to realize where I was, or even who I was, my mother blurted out that the doctors had to remove 7 inches of my femoral nerve. They took a portion of nerve from my inner thigh and tried to reroute it to make my thigh continue to work, but doctors weren't hopeful, and it could take up to 12 months to let the nerve heal and see where we end up. I remember bursting into tears as I heard what I considered to be worst case scenario. I also remember Chad (my husband) saying to my mother that they were going to wait a little while to tell me. My mother was never good at keeping secrets :)

After that surgery, it took me weeks to just sit up in bed for more than a minute or two. I had 3 incisions, each 8-12 inches in length. I had been completely disemboweled during surgery to get to the spine and nerve so they could find the tumor and remove it. It was by far the roughest, most painful thing I have ever been though. Those weeks were very sad, and very difficult. There was a lot of grief and even more tears. Gradually I started to feel better, my stubborn attitude kicked in, and I was determined to get better. The doctors weren't sure I would even be able to walk, but I did. Within a few months I walked without any help. First I used a walker, then a cane, then I just walked, although I wore leg brace the first year that kept my left leg locked in a straight position. I even got back to a fairly fast walking pace, and went on regular walks. I hobbled around on a tennis court, hopping on one good leg and playing couples tennis with some friends of ours. I rock climbed, and kayaked, and got a recumbent bike so I could still ride with my family.

I grieved of what might have been, while realizing there were some things I could never do again, no matter how determined I was. During this time, several friends and family members started jogging (something I had tried for years to get a few of them to do). They really enjoyed the runner's high. Running is something I cannot do ever again. It is not physically possible to run, jump, or kick with no quadriceps muscle. So I grieved.

There were more surgeries to try to return function to my leg. Surgery to help my knee pain that happened because my leg didn't work properly. Surgery because the first surgery caused painful scar tissue to form a neuroma (nerve mass). Surgery to fix a pinched nerve in my right leg because of my change in gait. And there was pain, so much pain. Pain from the surgery. Pain from the resulting issues. Pain from my neck and back that had a previous issue, but were now being contorted in an unnatural position as I tried to swing a dead leg forward and walk. There were plenty of things to grieve. Then, a team of doctors and orthotists at RIC (now Shirley Ryan Abilities Lab) that worked to get me a lighter weight leg brace, that bent went I walked. I kept walking. I worked out. I pushed and pushed, and after sitting on the side lines for 2 years, I joined my family and a group of spectacular friends, and did a 10 mile Tough Mudder obstacle course.

This whole process has been a roller coaster. Lots of waiting and seeing how things will turn out. I have had to grieve, let go of things, evaluate the new circumstances and change course. As Chad likes to say, we "adapt, improvise, and overcome." That is exactly what we have done every step of the way. We cry. We brainstorm a new trajectory, and we move forward. We move through the grief, and work hard not to get stuck in it.

Now we have circled back around. Now as I sit here and type, I am grieving the loss of my "tumor". I have been thinking all this time, that in 2004 when symptoms first appeared, it was due to the tumor they found in 2009. For 14 years, I have been dealing with my "tumor" and all it involves. All the ups and downs, the surgeries, the tears and pain. So, when I first felt symptoms in my right leg in 2011, I felt fear. I was scared that the tumor had returned. I was afraid I would lose the use of my right leg that had been doing most of the work since 2009. Then we learned it was something different. A mystery neurological disease that was unrelated to the rare nerve tumor I had. I grieved some more. It seemed that lightening had struck twice. I now had 2 different problems that both had a very rare occurrence rate, which made finding solutions difficult as no one really knew how to help. I grieved the unknown, and gradual loss of feeling and strength in my "good" leg.

Now in 2018, I am grieving the loss of the "tumor" I thought existed. I now have to wrap my brain around the fact that I have had a progressive neurological disease for 14 years. I never had a tumor, or 2 diagnoses, it's just been one all along. I cannot begin to adequately describe all the poking and prodding, the appointments, testing, waiting, the cost of all of this (emotional, physical and financial). Today I have to grieve my past and my future. I have to deal with the reality of my new diagnosis, which can be a difficult disease. It is rare enough that they cannot really give me a specific prognosis timeline, or treatment plan that works for everyone. They know what has helped some other people, and they hope it will work for me.

Eventually, we all need to move on or we get stuck, but today I will just grieve. I know I will continue to fight, it's what I do. I don't take bad news lying down, I get up and consider it a challenge to rise above. Unfortunately, with all the above events, my fight doesn't pack the punch it once did. I grieve that too. Today I will grieve. Tomorrow I will adapt, improvise, and overcome.

With God's grace, we will continue to get through this, one day at at time. He will faithfully strengthen us for each day ahead. Graciously, the Lord has kept Chad and I together as a unit, lock step, through all the ups and downs. I couldn't be more grateful to my Savior for His amazing grace! To God alone be the glory!

What are you grieving today? How will you adapt, improvise, and overcome tomorrow?

Until Next Time~
Shari

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Loss of Control

I admit it. I am a control freak. I like all of my ducks in a row.....a perfectly straight row, to be exact. If you knew me 10 years ago, you saw this attribute in full bloom! Health issues, age and a bit of wisdom have helped me learn to let go of a few things, but I will always be a planner. So, when things don't go according to my plan, it gets a bit uncomfortable (frustrating perhaps?) and I get irritated.

Our trip to Mayo Clinic didn't go quite like I expected, in large part because Northwestern Medicine "wasn't playing nice" according to my doctor. We requested ALL of my tissue samples about 6 weeks ago. Since I like to stay on top of things, I called to follow up with them 3 weeks later. They said they never received any request. I personally talked with the pathology department at that point, emailed a new request and paid $40 to overnight the samples to Mayo.

I then made sure the package showed up at Mayo, and got to the right doctor. Last week, it was here and in the right doctor. Then, we show up for our appointments today....

Turns out that Northwestern only sent 3 slides, that were already prepared with stain (doctor said like getting cooked meat instead of raw), instead of ALL the pathology as requested. The doctor then contacted Northwestern to get the remaining tissue, and the hospital refused to send MY tissue samples to Mayo Clinic so that they could properly diagnosis and treat me. Yup, that is irritating. 

As it turns out, the medical team here has seen enough to say with a fair amount of certainty that I do have CIDP and I did not ever have a neurofibroma. (Makes me wonder if this is why Northwestern isn't sharing?) Either way, I will begin treatment of low dose, weekly infusions of IVIG, and give it 4 months to start working. Then we will return to Minnesota again in January (yay) and repeat all the testing to see if there is any difference. 

In the meantime, I can assure you, Northwestern will get tired of hearing from me, until they give me ALL of MY tissues samples! (Chad says I am like a dog with a bone, so I won't let go until I get what I need). Mayo did not want to do a nerve root biopsy, unless they absolutely have too. The biopsy itself takes a big enough piece of nerve for testing, and will likely leave me with an additional neurological deficit. They will stay in touch once they get everything, and make their final, definitive decision on things (thought we would have that today, yep very irritating).

For now, I am still learning that ducks like to get out of line, and no matter how hard I try to keep them together, they frequently fail to comply with my desires. All of this makes me remember that my idea of control is all just an illusion anyways. In all honesty, I have absolutely no ability to make anyone else, or any situation work out according to my plan, and I don't want it to. 

I really do appreciate all of God's gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) reminders that His plan is different and better than mine. I can quit being like the little hamster in a wheel going around in circles trying to get somewhere, and rest in Him, knowing He knows exactly what I need, and exactly when I need it.

So, we will be home tomorrow. I am thankful to not be having surgery. I am grateful for friends and family who pray regularly, and send me a ton of messages of encouragement. Hopefully, I will continue to grow and these changes in my plans will bother me less and less as I get older. Lord, help me to be a more patient patient. One day at a time, right?!

Until Next Time~
Shari

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Constant Sorrows

Have you ever knocked over a glass of milk? You watched it tip in almost slow motion, as it runs all over the floor, and soaks everything nearby. How did you respond? On a typical day, you may very well feel a mild annoyance, and rush to clean it up. 

Now, have you ever had one of those days when your 2 year old is throwing a temper tantrum and while dealing with that, you burned breakfast? Maybe at that exact moment, your 5 year old is yelling your name from another room. You know, the kind of scream that makes your heart sink, and you instinctive realize that they are hurt. At the very second you rush to their aid (now trying to ignore that tantrum of your toddler, and the charcoal remains of your meal) the phone rings. It is suddenly so loud, and you feel you may explode. You are still hurrying to help your child when you bump a glass of milk, knocking it over, and it splashes everywhere. How do you respond in this scenario? Do you feel overwhelmed? Is anger welling up from within? Do you drop to the ground, scoop up the hurt child and just start sobbing because it all seems like too much? 

I have been dealing with a lot lately. It seems like every day is the latter of the two scenarios. It isn't just the small glass of spilled milk that makes me want to drop to my knees in prayer and weep. By itself, I can deal with the pain in my neck and back. I can cope with the allergies, or migraines. Normal days make the nerve pain doable. Numbness, or loss of balance and falling, are each things I can accept. We still have some unanswered questions from Mayo. All the waiting and the unknown causes me to ponder various options and outcomes, the "might-bes" and "could-have-beens" often late at night when I am not able to sleep because of pain.

My life isn't special or unique. The majority of us deal with hundreds of small things on a daily basis. We all have to decide how we respond to the overturned glass of milk. We all have moments when we want to just curl into a ball and cry. I just started reading a new devotional book that encourages prayer and the reading of the Psalms. Thousands of years ago, King David felt sorrow over many things too. The Psalms are both a raw expression of emotion, and an encouragement from our Lord at the same time.

Psalm 77 is titled in the ESV as "In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord" and begins in verse 1 with:

"I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me."

It has rained several times recently. The dark and dreary days feels as if they go on forever. They make me feel sad and like not doing anything. On the longest of days, when everything I am dealing with seems to occur at the exact same moment, and I don't think I can go on....I cry aloud to God, and He hears me. In the darkness, and in the pain....I cry aloud to God, and He hears me. On sunny days, when life seems ok, and all I am dealing with is one glass of spilled milk.....I cry aloud to God, and He hears me. 

I want you to know you are not alone, even when you feel like it. On days when you feel like you can't go on, or when the rain just won't stop, God has promised His people that He hears their cries. Our feelings betray us. The devil would like us to believe we cannot go on, and that we are alone. He tries to separate us from right fellowship with God and His people. We cannot trust our feelings and perceptions, but we can trust God's Word.

There is someone else besides you and me that knew this very well, that is Jesus. Isaiah 53:3-5 tells us that:

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

Jesus knows sorrow and grief. He can empathize with whatever we are going through, and will help us to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). He knows far greater sorrow than we can ever know. As he prepared to go to the cross, he cried out in prayer to God the Father, and asked that this cup might be taken from him. Yet, Jesus knew he must go forward. He must go to the cross, to his death. Jesus knows the cup cannot be taken from him, and he prays for God's will to be done, and trusts Him fully to accomplish His plans. Jesus took our sins upon himself at the cross, with the result being his separation from God (Matthew 27). In those moments, Jesus knew a far greater pain than we are going through.

Some days it is easy to dismiss all of this by saying, "Yeah, but Jesus is God, of course he could do it. I really can't handle all of this." You are correct, you cannot. Jesus trusted God, and so must we. Will we do so perfectly? No, but we make a choice to trust God, and His Word. We ask him for help, and cry aloud to Him. We can know He will hear us, even when our minds tell us He will never listen. The truth is, we frequently have to deal with more than we can handle, but never more than God can handle. If we will turn to Him in faith and repentance, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and He will also extend each of us the grace we need to get through each day.

So, yes, there have been a few tears lately, a few moments of feeling alone. There are times when I hear depression knocking on my door and I am tempted to answer. In those moments, the Psalms have really helped me to grieve, while still praising God. This new book has been a great reminder to pray. I know God hears me. I am never alone.

Until Next Time~
Shari

Saturday, August 11, 2018

I Was Only Trying To Help

We all know the feeling we have when a dear friend, or beloved family member is hurting, sick, depressed, or grieving. We feel helpless. We want to do something to help. In some ways, we need to do somethings tangible to feel useful, and let them know we love them. I understand this need. I am a "fixer" of problems. A trait perhaps most often considered a "man thing" to do. Over the years, I have learned to become a better listener, without listing out the steps to fix the problem (as I see it). I still find this difficult at times, as my mind works in a logical and sequential manner. I enjoy solving puzzles. When I hear a hurting friend say they are struggling, or they have a problem, I immediately think "well, let's fix the problem, then you can be happier, and in turn that makes me feel good to be useful."

I also have had moments when I am sharing my struggles with someone, and they pounce on me with a list things I can do to fix the problem. Over the years, people have bought me vitamins and supplements (or try to sell their brand to me). Given me medical or cook books. Sent me a mile high stack of articles and emails regarding treatment ideas or research. I am also learning something being on the other side of the "fixer." I am learning grace. To be very honest, my first response is irritation at times. I question why people would think I have not considered any of the options they are suggesting. I am a researcher by nature, and have read books, articles, blog posts, and many medical journals looking for answers over the years. I do eat a diet I feel is healthy for me. Perhaps the worst is my response to my several friends who sell the products they believe in, and have worked for them, when I think "No I don't want to buy product x, or I would have bought it." I feel guilty when people spend money to buy books and supplements, when I know that I will likely toss them. I have learned that people need to feel useful and they show love by trying to help fix the problem, just like I am guilty of doing.

One of the problems with being a "fixer" is that it is a way to make ourselves feel better. We feel the need to help, so we do, but in a way we think might be helpful instead of finding out what would actually be helpful to the individual suffering. I have come to understand that feeling of helplessness. I know that I have so many wonderful friends who care, and truly want to help me. They hurt because I hurt. I have to be gracious in my response to their offer of help, and hopefully they will be gracious in return if I seem to not take their advice. (Let me just take a minute here to ask forgiveness to those I have turned away with an unkind word. I am sorry. I am learning to think before I speak, but I am a sinner. I love you all, and would not want to hurt you, and I know you have a concern for me at the root of your offer.)

You all know how I love an analogy, although sometimes I have trouble thinking of a truly effective image, but I am going to try! I am sure you have been in a grocery store when you realize you are in the way of another shopper. You swerve to be considerate, thinking you will give preference to the other person, and patiently wait. But then, just as you swerve, so does the other shopper! You are both trying to do the "right" thing by helping the other person, but in the process you both have gotten in each other's way again! I have had this happen numerous times, and occasionally we have both then corrected our swerves and again ended up in the way. This situation is uncomfortable, and frequently ends in a nervous smile and one person saying "you go ahead, I won't move."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to help someone else, but perhaps we should take a minute to listen and identify how we can really be of use. For me, I would prefer someone just say "how can I help?" If I need a ride, or someone to grab a prescription, or mail a package for me, I will ask those whom have offered to help in the ways I need. Some people may not have a tangible way that they need help, maybe a kind word or card, and a listening ear without judgment, is the best "fix" you can give them. Prayer is always a wonderful gift! When we serve others the way they want to be served, instead of in the way we want to serve them, we avoid the nervous smile. We walk together, instead of one of us stepping aside, and telling the other one to go ahead and pass by.

Hopefully, you understand that I am not upset with anyone, I am just trying to say that we could all do a better job of helping the hurting in a way they want/need to be helped, instead of a way that we think will solve the problem. The truth is there are not many things I haven't tried (at least for a time) and the only thing remotely useful thus far has been dietary changes. I lost weight, lowered my cholesterol and blood pressure, but I also continued to worsen with the neurological disease, so clearly it is not a cure-all. I am thankful that your aunt's neighbor, or your cousin's best friend tried a certain diet/vitamin/doctor and got much better. I really am glad to hear that, but I also know that all our bodies are very different, our diagnoses are not the same, and a "one size fits all" approach does not work. When people ask about my dietary changes I tell them, but I do say "it worked for me, but I doubt it will work for everyone." This may be a whole different post, but just the fact they call it "practicing medicine" gives us a glimpse into the difficulty of how different people's bodies respond differently to the same health issue. This is why you can have many people with a herniated disc, and have them all have different outcomes. One gets better, or maybe never has any pain. One needs some therapy, a steroid injection and takes a few months to feel better. Another may need surgery or may be permanently disabled. Doctors tell me half the population would have a herniated disc show up on an MRI, but most never know it because they feel no pain! I am sure you can begin to see the difficulties with treating every person with the same plan!

At the end of the day, hopefully we can all learn to love less selfishly, pray more diligently, and extend grace more consistently, growing more and more each day to reflect Jesus in our lives. I love you all, and am so thankful for your prayers! 💜

Until Next Time~
Shari