Raw

For those of you who read my blog, you know that I am extremely inconsistent with posting. I think it is because I want to have all the right pictures, grammar, themes, etc. etc.  I still may write some of those posts, that require time and research, however, almost daily there are things I need to say, but don’t, because of the above mentioned obstacles. Therefore, please forgive posts, like this one, that are not completely thought out, or proofed multiple times, or are void of pictures and research.  Forgive my use or misuse of theology.  Today’s post and perhaps future posts are just raw emotion and raw revelations in the hope that my struggles and thoughts may help someone who is, or will be, struggling as I am now.

My Dad and I are experiencing the sad, hearwrenching journey of watching my Mom decline with Frontal Lobe Dementia.  It has been about three years since she was diagnosed and although we read about what to expect, I was still unprepared and in denial.  We are struggling and looking for answers.  We are frustrated and searching for resources as well as praying for wisdom. Each day brings new hurdles, be it deep depression with uncontrollable crying, anger, agitation, confusion, failure to eat or drink – this has to be one of the saddest diseases.  I have read that it has been called the Long Goodbye. The moods change on a dime and sometimes there are even short periods of extreme joy. (Thank you Lord for those sweet times!)

Over the last few weeks as the disease has begun to progress very rapidly, I have struggled (sorry I’m using that word so many times) with sadness over watching my Mom change and slip through my fingers, as well as watch my Dad love her in every way imaginable with his heart breaking.  For those of you who don’t know my Dad, he is the most amazing, strong, patient, and loving men I have ever known.  Being an only child, I have always felt that their happiness is my responsibility and this is killing me.

The past few weeks have also been hard because Rick has been sick resulting in stress over his health and finances.  Mattie and Cody and my precious 2 month old grandson have also moved six hours away.  Needless to say, especially for those of you who know me, I am a wreck.  On top of this we have failed to find a church home since moving to this area two years ago.  In the past, our church home has played such a supporting role during Kristi’s passing and Rick’s cancer, that to be without that community leaves us in a very difficult state as we walk this journey.  *****Please know that I am not seeking sympathy or pity, I am just sharing raw emotion truthfully in the hopes that someone can benefit from my path of suffering and comfort.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”  2 Corinthians 1:3 – 7 ESV

It is in light of the above circumstances that I found myself in that difficult state of questioning God’s love and the cruelty of this earth.  Last night my prayer was one of forgiveness for my doubts and one of begging God to hold me close and never let me go.  This morning three truths, simple yet profound, came to light that I know, beyond a doubt, were directly from God:

  1. Jesus also suffered cruel acts by his accusers and even his friends.  The cruelest of all however was when he not only died on a cross but took all of our sin onto himself in an act of love so that we might have eternal life, receive forgiveness, and have direct access to our Father. My pain watching my parents experience a cruel disease, (I won’t even try to go into the theology of suffering here) is nothing compared to the cruelty that Jesus endured by his accusers, however, it was all totally necessary to complete God’s perfect plan for humanity.
  2.  My struggles and trials are not in vain.  It is my belief that all trials happen for a reason.  I believed this when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, when Rick fought stage 3 Cancer, and most of all when we lost Kristi. I believed this but it wasn’t until I ran across a passage one day years ago that this belief was set in stone in my heart:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3 – 9 ESV emphasis mine

3.  As I was drinking my coffee this morning while Rick made breakfast (what a guy right!!?), I started thinking about Kristi (click here if you are unfamiliar with my story).  I began to google her, like I often do when my heart is hurting, and ran across a blog post written in 2012 by a friend who walked that journey with us.  Please read his post here.  Randy expressed the impact that Kristi had on his life and the impact of a song that I requested to be sung by the praise band at Kristi’s memorial service called Lifesong by Casting Crowns.  This song seemed to represent the life that Kristi sought and one that I hoped to attain to as well, thank God for grace when I get completely off track.  Here are the lyrics:

Empty hands held high, Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight
May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I wanna sign Your name
To the end of this day
Knowin’ that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Lord I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

Hallelujah hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You
CCLI Song # 4578839

Mark Hall © 2005 My Refuge Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (Admin. by Sony/ATV Songs LLC)

Randy’s insightful and truthful post reminded me that our lives are lived for more than this present age.  His post, along with the reminder of this song, gave me courage to strive to endure this season and to look past my current pain to the desire of my heart – to give my life as a living sacrifice.

  What an awesome, loving God we have!  What a Savior!  What a Holy Spirit – who brings things to mind uncovers things at just the right time!

Dear friends, I know life is hard and I know that many others have harder struggles than I do.  My hope and prayer in sharing this raw-ness (yeah, definitely not a word) is that you or someone you know will benefit from what I have shared.  I would love to visit with you if you are struggling.  I don’t have the answers and I continue to limp along and expect harder days to come before this season is over, but I will listen and share what the Lord is doing in my life as a result of these trials.

So today, with all of you as my witnesses, I rededicate my lifesong to the Lord and thank Him for reminding me that this present life is only a vapor and that eternal life, where every tear will be wiped away, is the answer to my questions.

I leave you with one more song that has never left my mind during these last few weeks:

Your Hands by JJ Heller

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

I would love for you to share your comments, ask for prayer, or share how God has/is walking with you through your own trials.      –Meschill

Our Daily Bread

IMG_0574Do you ever have a day that is just really awesome?  I hope you do!  Yesterday was one of those such days.  Rick, my husband, was off, the weather was perfect with just a slight hint of Fall, and we happened upon a Farmer’s Market.  We had gone to eat at one of our favorite restaurants in Biltmore Park Town Square, one of those up and coming apartment homes/shops and restaurant centers.  I had forgotten that the shopping center had a Farmer’s Market.  It has limited hours and is only open on Wednesdays so I had not been able to catch it at the right time.  The City Market South was small and had a decent crowd so we could visit with some of the vendors about their goods.

There is just something about being around fresh produce, just picked the day before, and fresh bread that just makes me feel alive, maybe I’m just weird that way.  Among the produce offered by the farmers was tomatoes, kale, peppers, zucchini, gorgeous radishes and deep orange carrots.  The rainbow of color was so appealing – colors from the earth – that it made my day seem even more perfect.

There was one vendor, Fletcher Village Bakery, that had home baked cookies and an amazing assortment of bread.  The loafs of fresh bread were gorgeous, again very earthy, various varieties, textures and sizes. These fresh veggies and scrumptious crusty bread made me think about how amazing God’s creation really is.  My thought process went on to think of “our daily bread” – a provision that we often take for granted.  So many times, our prayers are filled with worries about the future, and even more worries of things that may not even happen, plus requests for things that we may not really need.  I’m not saying not to pray about these things.  My point is what if we had the mind set of “our daily bread”, living in the moment and enjoying what we have been given for that day, that moment?  We take this for granted and are seldom reminded that there are other people, other believers, who do not have the option to run to the grocery store or a Farmer’s Market when their supply of bread runs low.  God provides for each of us in separate ways and it’s a mystery why some have more and others have less.

The different loaves of bread, nice and crusty and imperfectly shaped, also made me think about how it is made.  IMG_0571 - CopyMaybe you’re a bread maker, I am not, but this display of the most basic of foods made me reflect on the time and effort that goes into making each loaf.  The loving hands that combine the ingredients, knead the dough, patiently wait for it to rise, shape the dough into loaves, and finally cook the bread for just the right amount of time.  I can almost smell the comforting aroma of the bread as it bakes.

If you think about it this is how God prepares us to receive, and to give, the daily bread.  He lovingly gathers the events, circumstances, gifts, and relationships and combines them in just the right way, kneading us with our experiences, preparing us and shaping us into who He wants us to be and who He wants us to “feed”.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” Matthew 6:11

Yes, yesterday was one of the good days but of course not every day is like that.  We experience good days, bad days, worse days, and even devastating days.  I believe that God knits all these things together to form us into who He has created us to be, preparing us for service for His kingdom.  However, we must have an open and willing heart and listening ears to hear Him guide us to action.

Why do some have plenty and others have none?  Why are there people who are starving and a mother whose only wish is that she could feed her children?  I don’t know.  What if we were meant to play a part in their lives, in their provisions of “daily bread”?  What if God has picked us to supply the needs of others and we have missed that call?  I’m not trying to preach (nor am I qualified) but maybe we need to think about what we are called to do instead of trying to find fault with God.  His call to action for you may be to pray, then pray.  It may be to give, then give. It may mean to go, then go.

“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;” Matthew 9:37

  I know there are many in our country, as well as our global neighbors, who desperately need “daily bread” in one form or another.  Whether it’s in Houston, Florida, Haiti, or all the others affected by storms, let us all listen to what God has created us to be and to do.

Many times, I have the excuse that I don’t hear or I don’t know what God is guiding me to do but usually that is during the times when I am not seeking God with my whole heart in everything I do.  Many times, it’s also when I am not spending time in God’s word every day and then responding to Him in prayer.

I’m not trying to step on any toes here.  I just type and God seems to give me the words.  Maybe the only person who needed to hear these things was myself but maybe I am not alone.

A Light Unto My Path

I wanted to have a snappy introductory paragraph to grab my readers’ attention so I begin to do research on Christian symbols, namely the cross and the fish (Ichthys), in hopes of opening with a little history.  However, I realized that the research was leading me down the rabbit’s hole of debate and heated arguments over the history and cultural aspects of these symbols.  As I said in my first blog post, I am not here to debate, but to tell my stories. cross book There are pages and pages on the internet about the history and use of Christian symbols and while some do have merit and while I am aware of the controversies and debates over wearing a cross as jewelry or having the outline of a fish on your bumper, my story is about how God used these symbols, as well as others, in our journey of fighting my husband’s cancer.  Up to that point in my life, it was the most frightening and difficult time that I had faced.  I needed God’s strength and guidance more than ever before.

Rick and I both sat dazed on the hard plastic chairs in the empty medical clinic.  It was almost closing time and we had already had a day filled with gut-wrenching news that Rick did, in fact, have cancer.  We had no details about where it was or how far it had progressed.  Our family doctor had sent us to a free clinic because Rick’s current job as a car salesman did not provide health insurance.  Going to this free clinic was a formality in order to be sent to the local medical center which happened to be one of the best in the state.  As Rick sat with a blank look on his face, I was at the front desk receiving instructions about what we were to do next.  I was literally and physically shaking.

The lady looked up at me with kind eyes and said, “Sweetie, why are you trembling?”

I replied with the only words that would come out of my mouth, “I’m scared.” What an understatement!  As I looked at her for what seemed like the first time, I noticed her cross necklace as my eyes moved to meet her’s and she said,

“Give this to God; it’s too big for you.”

Within the next two days Rick was taken from one test to the next.  At first the doctors believed that the cancer was in his colon so we met with a specialist and to our surprise he offered to pray with us before we left.

After more tests and sleepless nights, Rick was finally diagnosed with stomach cancer.  It seemed as if we were just floating through time, in shock and disbelief.  Because of my diagnosis of Lupus and Fibromyalgia early in our marriage, Rick was always the strong one – the one who took care of me, and now I needed to find the strength and courage to be his caregiver and take care of all of our financial needs for the next several months.  We were told that he would need surgery and were stunned to find out that the surgeon would need to remove his whole stomach. So many questions formed in my mind, foremost how could anyone live without a stomach and how could I possibly live without my husband, friend, and love of my life. I kept asking the surgeon, with desperation,  for a timeline or a guarantee that Rick would survive, but he could offer neither. Although I had no promises from the doctors, I continued to see little signs here and there that God was my hope.

path 2

 

On the day of the surgery, I sat with Rick as we waited silently for it to begin.  Our pastor had already prayed over him and an Anesthesiologist came in and explained to us what he would be doing before and during the surgery.  As he wheeled Rick away I got a glimpse of his silver ring with the shape of a fish.  It was at that point that I realized that God was providing a road map, a path lit with strength and perseverance.  I felt that he was telling me that He was with us and that He would be with us every step of the way.  I walked into the waiting room and saw the familiar faces of family, friends, our pastors and other church leaders.  I held on to the signs that God had given me as we waited and prayed.   After what seemed like a lifetime, the nurse called a few of us back to talk to the surgeon.  Rick had made it through the surgery but we would have to wait a few days to find out if the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.  From what I had read, if his lymph nodes were clear then we would be in good shape.  The biopsies came back and the cancer had spread to 60%  of his lymph nodes.  My heart sunk.  Again, I begged the surgeon to give me hope, but he could not.  I cried out to God to save him.

Rick spent 19 days in the hospital due to complications from the surgery.  When we finally got to go home, it was with the news that the surgery was only the first step; he would need chemotherapy as well as radiation to treat the remaining cancer cells.  It broke my heart as I watched him bravely endure the treatments as well as learning how to eat with no stomach.

Even with all of the fear and uncertainty, all along the journey we would continue to receive little signs that God was in control and that He was our strength.  For example, the first day in the chemo lab we were greeted by a sweet and funny nurse who would be with us for all of the treatments.  She always wore a pin that said “God is in control”.  Each time I sat with Rick during the treatments, that pin gave me hope.img_3923

During the first year when everything was so uncertain, Rick read and studied the book of Job.  God spoke to him in a huge way and his relationship grew to be stronger than it had ever been.  Although we were in the middle of a whirlwind of  doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, and trying to take care of our two teenage daughters, Rick had a quiet, still spirit.  A friend insisted that we attend a day retreat and although we couldn’t stay long, we won a door prize.  It was a large cross with the word “TRUST” written on it.  Every time a new problem would come up I would hear God’s voice saying to just trust Him.  He gave me my miracle; Rick has been cancer free for 12 years.

I have other stories from this season of our lives, stories of how a church came together to support us during our worst nightmare, stories of growth in not only Rick but also in my daughters, and the many prayer warriors who were devoted to Rick’s recovery.  I hope to continue to share my stories, in no order, just as God directs.

It’s not easy to completely put your faith in God’s plans and although we had a happy ending to this chapter, not all of my stories end in the way that I would want.  But my stories really aren’t about me – they are about Him and His glory.

If you are in a season of conflict or uncertainty, keep your eyes open and God will direct you, maybe not in the same way that he did for me, but He will show you that He is in control and He will give you the strength to walk through the worst times of your life.  It’s all a matter of hanging on, if by only a thread, to the promise that He loves us and knows what is best, not just for us, but for building his kingdom.

One of my passions is praying and encouraging others who are struggling with pain and uncertainty.  I would be honored to pray for you or someone you know.  You can leave a comment or send me an email.

“Cast your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Words in My Head

Welcome to my blog and my first post. My name is Meschill. I’m 55 and it’s time to tell my stories and thoughts from the mass of mangled words floating around in my brain.

How to begin?

Write, just write. Be brave.

Move my pen and the words will come.

 

2016-06-15 13.02.15I’m starting this blog because I’ve had some struggles in my life, both minor and beyond major. I know I am not alone and that some Moms out there have faced and are currently facing more trials than I can possibly imagine. Through my own trials and over time, I have learned about how God uses every one of our struggles and most of all, I have experienced God’s perfect grace. I have shared some of my stories with family and a few friends.  I have also shared them with others who desperately needed encouragement to find God’s grace in the midst of the worst possible loss. I’ve known for a long time that God would ask me to share my tears, my doubts, my memories, my musings and my tiny moments of perfect clarity in the midst of my helplessness.

2012-06-02 09.31.21I am a new blogger so I can guarantee my blog will not be the prettiest , with perfect pictures. There may be a typo or two and a word used too many times, (where is that thesaurus anyway?), but I will promise that my writing will come from my heart. I don’t plan to debate theology, the role of women, or politics. I’m simply here to share and encourage.

Through my upcoming posts I will write about my triumphs and failures at being a mom to my  two beautiful daughters and wife to my amazing husband of 30+ years.  I will also share my lessons learned from working with children through college age in ministry, my thoughts from Bible study and a miracle or two. I might include posts about my love of scrapbooking, rubberstamping, shabby chicness (I just made up that word), entertaining and living in the mountains of North Carolina.2017-05-10 14.49.56-1

I will also share my worst moments, being diagnosed and living with chronic disease, my family’s struggle during times of financial difficulties, my husband’s journey through cancer, my fear of watching my mom fight dementia, and the loss of my beautiful, nineteen year old daughter.

My hope is that my stories and musings will reach those who are in need of encouragement and grace and that God would speak to them through my writing. I want to touch not only the lives of those Moms, who like me, have experienced the unbearable pain of losing a child, but also Mom’s of all ages who are striving to just live their lives in the shadow of the cross. I pray that God will give me the courage to write. I’m not sure where this journey will take us. I’m no one special, just someone who has seen God’s strength in my weaknesses.

Through my struggles, both big and small, I have come to realize that God’s grace really is all I need.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV