The Best Way to Ruin a Day

My precious, determined and motivated almost 9-year-old daughter has been faithfully working out for the last few days every single morning before school. I am so proud of her, watching her grow stronger and more confident the more she does these workouts, and it’s certainly put some pep in her step!

So this morning she awoke and did her workout as usual, but then, I noticed a gloomy look on her face and I asked her what was wrong and if she was ok. It didn’t seem to fit her normal enthusiasm she has had as of late!

She began to spout off things that weren’t fair in her life, a lot of them pertaining to her brother. I think this was especially spurred on by him being home sick this morning, and she was feeling a little envious.

As we dialogued about her struggles,  I felt compassion for her and struggled to hold my tears back at points. I get it.  The struggle with fairness has been one that I’ve had to deal with over the years.

I have this conversation with my kids fairly often if they come to me with things that don’t feel fair in their lives. I have to remind them in return that, if I were to keep a “fair score”, my sickness as I deal with MS doesn’t feel fair at all!  As I look around at friends, family and in the world in general sometime, I wonder what it must feel like to just be able to feel good most of the time. To be able to wake up in the morning and not wonder how much feeling I will have in my hands, and if my legs will be strong enough to carry me and do all the things I need to do in my day, as a mom and a wife. It doesn’t seem fair. And it certainly doesn’t seem fair that some of the most amazing people I know are dealing with cancer and just trying to save their own life. Or for the husband or wife who has lost their spouse, it certainly isn’t fair that they are now stuck trying to get by as a single parent, something I’m sure they didn’t ask or sign up for when they got married!

But do we really want fair?

As I processed with my daughter this morning, the thing that saddened me the most was how her posture and her whole demeanor became more angry and frustrated as she sat in that place and spoke of how unfair some things were that she has to deal with. I could tell it was taking her to a very negative place in her heart.

But if we were honest with ourselves, haven’t we all felt like that at some point? I know I have.

As I have processed through this same issue over the years, I have found in my own journey that hand-in-hand with the issue of fairness always comes the issue of comparison, and what a dark path to head down! 

Comparison is a deadly trap; it is a thief and it always comes to steal our joy! 

The danger of comparison is if you have the advantage over others in your mind, it’s easy to begin to feel pride take it’s hold on your heart; and if you come up short, you feel shame and failure begin to do the same! It’s a dangerous game you can’t win either way! 

I have certainly struggled over the years in my own story, and still have to fight through these feelings still from time to time, but God has shown me a safe place to land in my heart– to remember that I have my own journey, my own story. It is unique and is unlike anyone else’s. It’s not about fair, it’s about finding out what He has for me

This has been a game-changer in my life: to quit looking at what is or isn’t fair but to find value and treasure in my own journey. To know that God wants the absolute best for my life and has me on my own unique path, and it’s not always going to look like anyone else’s.

One great way that I have found to combat the comparisons to others is begin to look at the strengths that God has placed inside of me, and begin to maximize them the best I can, instead of worrying about what others are doing. I then begin to find a thankful heart by thanking Him for the strengths he has placed in me! A thankful heart will ALWAYS trumps an ungrateful bitter spirit. It always puts me in a much better place when I can do this practice, and I wind up feeling refreshed as I recall God’s work in my life, instead of discouragement about what isn’t going well for me.

Quitting the game of fairness and comparison has helped me find new freedom and new joy. It has helped me to be able to genuinely celebrate with others when maybe they have something that I would love to have, or are doing something I would love to do. They have their journey and I have mine! I believe this has now made me a better friend, a happier wife and mom and it has taken the pressure off of me to be like anyone else, and just to enjoy being myself!

I pray that even today you are able to begin to get off the roller-coaster ride of fairness and comparison. I pray you begin to see places where you have had this same struggle and that you can begin to make the choice to allow God to change your inner dialogue and help you think differently. May you find freedom in your journey like I have. I don’t want fair anymore, I want all that God has for me. It may not always look like fair, but it’s going to be good. xo

A Time For Weeping And A Time for Laughter

I have no doubt in my mind that getting a difficult health prognosis has to be one of the top hardest things to deal with in life, as I again discovered yesterday. I bet a lot of you who have also walked this road would agree with me.

I know people who have told me how they wonder at times how  I manage have to joy in the midst of the journey I walk, how I am able to be so brave, how I continue to have hope even though things look bleak at times.

I believe how I’m able to process what I’m feeling is key to getting through a really difficult situation and being able to hang on for the roller-coaster ride I’ve been on.

I sat in my new neurologist’s office yesterday as he looked at my brain MRI I had done last week,  listening to him say things like “Your MS is bad”, “This is going to effect you your whole life”, “your brain is covered with lots of lesions from the years of MS so far. I can see how it’s trying to repair itself but there is still scarring that will be there”…etc etc.

I sat there in silence, my head spinning, thinking ” I can’t believe this is my life. It’s so far from any thing I have wanted or ever desired to deal with.” I felt so much despair wash over me. At one point I found myself think how much I hated my life….but I quickly realized that wasn’t the truth at all and corrected that thought with, “no way do I hate my life! I have an amazing life and I love it. What I hate is this illness.”

I left the doctor’s office with my sweet husband and sat in his car, weeping over the update from my doctor, feeling the gravity of my situation, as he comforted me. I called my sister and wept some more. I picked my daughter up from school with tears still spilling over. I came back home and spent the rest of evening weeping as my kind husband took care of literally everything so I didn’t have to do a thing. And now, I’m sitting here now with many tears again.

I have dealt with this awful disease for 10 years but there are certain points where I come face to face with it and I feel so much grief for how much it has already impacted me, and how my future could possibly look.

There used to be times where I tried to be strong in my own strength–I believed strong looked like pushing my pain down and pressing forward as if I didn’t have a care in the world, while I quietly began to die little by little inside.

However, as I have learned better ways to cope now and as I have grown closer and closer with the Lord, I have found a new way to deal with my grief. I allow myself to feel it completely.

I let myself feel the full weight of my grief, my fear, my anxiety, my desperation, my despair..I kid you not, I felt as if I had a million emotions trying to get themselves out of my brain all at once yesterday. It was very overwhelming, but I just let the tears flow because I needed release from the pain I was feeling.

Here’s the game changer though: My grief as a follower of Jesus Christ is unique. It is very different from the way the world grieves. I grieve but not without hope.

Even as I wept yesterday, I was still able to tell my sister through my tears that I believe God still has a plan for my life, I am confident he knows exactly what he is doing even though I don’t have a clue, and I know there has to be joy and laughter somewhere on the other side. I can say all of these things with confidence as I look back and see God’s faithfulness in my life, and how he has proven himself worthy of my trust.

This has now changed the way I look at grief.

I am not afraid to go to that place of tears and deep anguish anymore. It’s not a scary place that takes me down a deep hole of despair, but instead it’s like a safety net. I’m acknowledging my pain and processing through it, while at the same time knowing that He is God and he is near, collecting all of my tears.

I believe my tears make a way for joy. If  don’t tap into my sorrows and pain, I can’t tap into the joy God wants to give me. I love how it says that he catches our tears in a bottle. They are precious to him. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 and then the promise he makes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5.

Ecclessiastes 3:4 also says “there is a time for weeping, and a time for laughter.”  I was reminded of this verse yesterday; that now is my time for weeping, but it says there will again be a time for laughter coming. I am believing that this is not the end. God has the last word in my life.

Equally important as I’m processing my deep pain and sorrow has been reading God’s word, which is such a comfort to my heart.  I especially like to read the Psalms during times like these as David voices all of his emotions, just like I’m trying to do. I love how real he is, and it encourages me to be real also.

I like to also journal and write down my thoughts and feelings, helping get them out of my head and on paper. It truly does free up brain space and leave more room in my mind and heart to hear God speaking to me, and be able to receive it.

Lastly, there are no words for how grateful I am that a friend gave me a copy of “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson, the night before my difficult day yesterday. God’s timing truly is perfect, and has been such a tremendous encouragement to me.

It is a book about dreaming big and I have decided that I am going to do just that this year. Dreaming gives me a sense of empowerment, that I believe God wants all of us to have. Even though I feel like I have lost parts of my health and it’s completely out of my control, it can’t stop me from dreaming. And it certainly can’t stop God from fulfilling these dreams through me in my lifetime.

I’m going to end this with a couple of quotes that really stuck out to me yesterday as I read through parts of this powerful book. I hope it encourages you as much as it did me!

Bless you as you walk through your hard places and process your grief. Our heavenly Father is ever-present, walking with us and He truly cares. I pray you feel his presence even in the midst of your grief and pain as much as I have. 

“If you want to live an epic life, you have to overcome some epic challenges. You have to take some epic risks, make some epic sacrifices.”

“A God-sized dream dream will always beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it cannot be done! But that’s how God gets the glory. If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. It also falls short of God’s glory by not giving him an opportunity to show up and show off his power.”

Two are better than one

They say a picture is worth a thousand years…
 
I wish we had a camera to capture the moment that I was able to walk across a field outdoors this afternoon, but only because I was gripping the hand of an amazing woman on either side as they literally had to hold me up to keep me from stumbling and falling, due to balance and weakness issues. (I’m sure the wedges I was wearing  for our photo shoot didn’t help either. Ha!)
 
My heart is sad that my legs have really been struggling in the last few days; but in that moment this afternoon none of it mattered, as tears filled my eyes and I had a glimpse again of how life is meant to be lived. Together, in community, as a team, occasionally the stronger arms needing to hold up one who might be struggling for the moment.
 
It’s humbling to be the one who needs the help but I know one day I will be the one helping hold another up. Don’t fool yourself and think you can do life alone. It may be possible temporarily but you will miss out on so much joy from community if you do so, and the load could quickly become too much to bear.
 
God created us to do life together, and it truly does lighten our load when we let another help carry it. 💜 
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Deliverance in the midst of trouble

I believe that God sometimes wants to deliver us THROUGH our troubles, instead of just delivering us OUT of our troubles.

I have been dealing with with a very sore tooth off and on for the last 5 years since I had a cavity filled, as well as getting it crowned, and the nerve has never been very happy since then. It has been so incredibly painful for me, for weeks at a time each time, as I’ve dealt with this tooth and it’s issues, but I had been fortunate enough so far to be able to get inflammation down naturally through diet and supplements every time it would flare up.

However, when it began to flare up again last Friday, my heart sank because I’ve been through so much physical pain lately and I honestly felt like I had reached the end of what I could even deal with. I really began praying for God to take the pain away again or to please show me if I just needed to get this taken care of, instead of trying to spend weeks in pain fighting it naturally, per the usual.

The pain continued to only get worse as the weekend went on, so I made a phone call yesterday morning to see if my favorite endodontist, who only works at the Thompson Station location one day a month, was available soon–and of course, wouldnt you know it, He just happened to be here the very next day. (today) Such a clear sign to me that God was providing a way for me to get this taken care of, and quickly!

I admit– I felt like a bit of a failure that I couldn’t seem to get my body to heal the way I wanted it to even though I had worked so hard, and also a bit disappointed that God wasn’t just giving me some miraculous healing and taking the pain away right then and there.

However, as I went through with this root canal procedure today, God began showing me how important our troubles can be in our lives, because it’s an opportunity for him to show us who He is!

I believe miracles are amazing and I personally love the miraculous, but as I grow in my christian walk, I’m finding that sometimes while we are concerned about the end result, God is more concerned about our journey getting there, and ultimately, our hearts.

What I’m realizing more and more is: we cannot know him as our great healer if we never deal with sickness; we cannot know him as our comforter if we never deal with loss and grief; He can never show us his power and strength if we never experience weakness; He cannot show us what a great provider he is unless we experience lack in our lives. So sometimes while we are praying for him to take trials out of our lives, he actually wants us to walk through them with him by our side, so he can show us who He is–and who we are, too!

I believe God was wanting me to walk through this experience with this root canal today because he knew I was afraid of having another one done…I’ve heard stories of how it can cause harm to your health, among other reasons, and so therefore I began to put God in a box, in terms of how I thought he should deliver me. But this time, he didn’t deliver me OUT of my situation but instead walked me THROUGH the very thing I was afraid of, while showing me his power, his provision and his healing through getting this root canal!

After what I experienced today, I want to start praying differently. I want to have a heart that is willing to walk through these trials in life, so I am able to see all the ways God is going to show up and show me his deliverance IN THE MIDST of my trials. In this way, I believe this will make his name great and so many others will most certainly be impacted by the things we are walking through, and will be able to see how God is delivering us in the midst of it!

Be encouraged if you are walking through a trial–God is bringing deliverance and He will bring you out on the other side, all while showing you his faithfulness and goodness!

PSALM 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of a Story

I had an incredible opportunity to share my story of how I’m journeying through chronic illness as I deal with MS, this week on the CourageCast podcast!

I hope you are able to hop over to the link provided below, and take a listen to all 3 days where I am interviewed by Eric Nordhoff! And most of all, I hope you all are encouraged as you journey through your own hard places in life, remembering that you are not alone in whatever you’re walking through!

 

Part 1: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414779-104-elizabeth-taylor-courage-through-a-chronic-illness

Part 2: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414780-105-elizabeth-taylor-the-antidote-for-despair

Part 3: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414801-106-elizabeth-taylor-not-without-hope

 

I would love your thoughts after you listen, so please feel free to come back here and leave a comment on anything you would add, if you’ve experienced some of the same things I have, etc!

 

 

Learning to receive

How well we are able to receive is just as important as how well we are able to give. 💜

It takes a lot of humility to allow others to serve and bless us, and I’m realizing how at times we could even miss out on ways God wants to bless us and give us good gifts, when we struggle with humbling ourselves enough to allow Him to do just that–and most of the time, through those around us!

At times I know I’ve struggled with allll the needs I seem to have, and become concerned that although they are very real, wearying others with my constant issues. I have never once been treated that way though, and I am continually contacted with offers to help, meals dropped off, prayers, help with my kids, reduced fees for medical issues. So if these are humans like you and I offering so much generosity, that is only a small glimpse of how a perfect God feels towards us. He never wearies of our needs, and loves to come and rescue and save us–EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I am truly grateful, humbled and moved to tears by so many of you who have continually served and given so much to my family and I in the last few years, as I have dealt with this ugly disease, MS, that I still believe I WILL get the upper hand on one day soon! I’ve come to realize there is no way I could ever repay, nor do I need to, because I’m trying to learn how to receive these as gifts from God. And you should do the same! 🙂 Please know how moved my heart is by all of the kindnesses shown to me, and I pray you all receive so much blessing in return!

I hope this reminder encourages you to find the courage to reach out, ask for help and receive what is offered.You might be surprised as I have been, by the extravagance shown, and it will bring others joy to be able to serve you.

I can’t wait to be on the giving end again, but in the meantime, I’m grateful God is teaching me how to be a good receiver!

 

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.