Thursday, March 22, 2012


Today life is hard, and tears flow cascading into a pool of lost dreams and hopes.  I struggle between my desire to "pull it together" and my need to just be honest with where I am right now.  As a person with chronic migraines, I have watched many of my dreams and hopes take second place to pain.  I have watched relationships and activities that I love being a part of take a second place to pain.  I have seen my financial security swept away because of pain. Although I believe that there is grace and hope to be found in this journey, there are times when the hopeful adult gives way to the fearful and lost child.  

I find that through expressing my heartfelt tears that they somehow wash away the film that keeps me from seeing the hope.   However, I have to allow myself to experience the tears, the loss and the pain and take them to my Eternal source of Hope before I can begin to face the journey anew with strength, grace and perseverance. 

Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins

Well, sometimes my life just 
Don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls 

Now I'm falling down,
I'm falling on my knees                                        
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where Does Joy Come From?

As a child I use to sing a song with the words:
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay

There have been times as I've struggled with chronic pain that I've wondered where that joy was.  The problem, however, has not been one with joy but with extreme myopia (near-sightedness).  Pain is so ever present that it is easy to see only that - to allow it to cast a shadow over all that I do and am.  However, just like my hand can totally obscure my vision if I hold it up close to my eyes, so pain can obscure my vision if I hold it too close in my mind.

When I stop holding the pain so close, I am able to see all the things that exist which can provide joy.
 - I look at the picture of a friend's smiling baby.
 - I watch the dogs play tug of war nose to nose with a three inch ball.   
- I eat lunch with my dad who was victorious over his battle with cancer last year. 
- I have the opportunity to spend the day with a one year old for whom life is endlessly fascinating.
 - I go through photo albums and look at the pictures of friends and family and call to mind all the wonderful memories that go along with them.  
- I see the beautiful purple tulips which have bloomed in a neighbor's yard 
- I listen to the words of some of my favorite songs. 
- I look at "treasures" in my home which evoke powerful memories of love. 
- I spend time with my niece and nephew, and my heart swells up with the joy of being their aunt.
- I read God's word and am reminded of His unfailing love for me  - I think about all my dear friends and how much they mean to me.
- I treasure every time I've heard the words "I love you," "I'm praying for you," and "I'm here for you.  

When I stop holding pain so close that I can't see anything else, I am absolutely bombarded by the sheer magnitude of opportunities for joy.  Joy isn't found in circumstances; it's found in my response to circumstances.  For now, there is little I can do to change my migraines, but there is a lot I can do to change my state of mind.  It is all a matter of where I choose to put my focus.  And for today, at least, I choose joy.

I'll leave you with the words of one of my favorite Kathy Trocolli songs:

A purple sky to close the day 
I wade the surf where dolphins play 
The taste of salt, the dance of waves 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

A lightning flash, my pounding heart 
A breaching whale, a shooting star 
Give testimony that You are 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

Oh praise Him all His mighty works 
There is no language where you can't be heard 
Your song goes out to all the earth 
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah 

O cratered moon and the sparrow's wings 
O thunder's boom and Saturn's rings 
Unveil our Father as we sing 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

The pulse of life within my wrist 
A fallen snow, a rising mist 
There is no higher praise than this 
And my soul wells up 
Oh my soul wells up 
Yes my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Friend Who Cares

When we go through difficult times, there seem to always be moments that stick in our memory like photographs, and over time they become well-worn as we visit them over and over again.  One such time for me was during the visitation prior to my mother's funeral.  My photograph of that time could be of great pain and sorrow save the actions and presence of a few good friends.  While I stood receiving a long line of people who came to pay their respects, there was a constant presence with me that I frequently looked up to see.  A few of my dearest friends had come and after speaking to me sat on the couch in the corner of the room - staying there the duration of the visitation.  Occasionally, I would see one providing a bottle of water or a box of Kleenax to someone in my family, but for the most part what I saw when I looked up were the faces of compassion, caring, love and steadfastness.  They did not bombard me with words, but with their presence and their prayers.  When I look back on mom's funeral, it is that vision that I see - those dear friends who though they did not know what to say were willing to sit with me in my pain.

A friend of mine recently posted the following quote by Henri Nouwen on Facebook:
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

Since I have become essentially homebound due to migraine disease, I have had the opportunity to take a number of other photographs that I will always hold dear.

    - When I laid in bed with a severe migraine, and my friend just got on the bed and laid next to me in the dark.  Funny how I remember her presence so much more clearly than the pain.

    - When I was having horrible discontinuation syndrome from a medication, a number of family members and friends took turns sitting in my room just waiting through the effects with me.  Again it is their presence that I remember more than the symptoms.

- When I was afraid to be alone in the middle of the night because of how badly I felt and my brother came over in the wee hours of the morning and slept on my couch to be nearby in case I needed him.  Yes, again the comfort usurps the memory of the fear.

- I also carry an image that I've created in my mind of my Lord looking at me with love and compassion, holding His arms out to welcome me into the comfort and strength of those arms.

What pictures do you hold in your mind?  Are they of the pain, the disappointment, the trials or have you also created priceless photographs of times when friends and family came along side you to lend their steadfast support?  I am sorry that I live with Migraine disease, but I am so blessed to still be building beautiful memories in the midst of it.