What really matters

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My dad and I did a little excursion this week to visit graves of his parents. As we walked through the cemetery, I was captured by the oldest headstones.

One day, inevitably, 60 or 70 years from now, my name will be on a headstone. It may say something nice, like “Loving Wife, Mother and Sister” (only because they don’t put stuff like “This Mama was cranky before coffee or time with Jesus” on headstones). It may be next to Herschel or in a family plot. But one day, after I die, what really matters and the only thing that matters is what I have done that is of eternal value.

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Sixty-five years from now, when someone walks by and looks at my headstone and sees “Christine Rothchild, Loving Wife and Mother”, they’ll never know that I was creative, and disorganized, and that I love coffee. They won’t care. All that will matter are the generations below me that have been affected by my life and what I have done to pour into them that lasts. That thing that lasts is a relationship with Jesus Christ through salvation and giving your life to Him. There is no other thing that matters.

Freedom in forgiveness

Christianity

It’s impossible for me to forgive on my own. As a survivor/victim of sexual abuse, I have stored up a lifetime of anger, and hatred toward those who abused me and hurt those I love. I’ve felt completely justified in my anger, that it was righteous, because the abuse was heinous and evil. Until recently.

I’m doing a workbook that addresses forgiveness and asks some questions that cut right to the heart of this matter. I told God straight out: I hate him!!! He hurt me. He also hurt those I love and doesn’t deserve forgiveness. He deserves to rot in prison.

I love that we can be grossly honest with God, because after all, He already knows what’s in our hearts, it’s helpful for us to be honest with Him.

As I told God the ugliest parts of my heart and how I felt about this one person, it was as if the Holy Spirit whispered “Jesus died for him.”

But I don’t want to forgive him God! I want justice!  “Jesus died for him.” I paused for a moment. If I refused to forgive this one who abused me, then I’m setting myself above Jesus, who died for his sins and mine. I’m setting myself above God. I didn’t want to do that.

Yes, I would forgive, and trust God to deal with justice for the wrongdoing. Enough pain and evil has been done. I will not be a prisoner to unforgiveness anymore.

I’m not saying this is easy. It’s truly an act of our will and our feelings may take time to follow. The prayer pictured below is helpful for me in the forgiveness process. You may find it helps, too! I have a long way to go and God is still at work in my heart every day. But freedom sure is worth the hard work!

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Walk by faith, not by sight

Christianity
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No more progressive lenses, I’m switching between readers and distance glasses.

Have you ever wanted to dance at a doctor’s office? Kiss and hug your doctor? Weep for joy with thanks and gratitude at your doctor’s office? Inside I wanted to, recently, but I could tell by Dr. Romero’s reserved demeanor that I should keep the displays of emotion to a minimum. I simply ended with, “Tell your wife to give you a big hug and kiss.” My happiness was because the doctor gave me a clear and concise explanation for the double-vision and migraines that have been troubling me for the past couple of years. I had a micro-vascular stroke during a severe migraine at that point in time (2.5 years ago) and it caused a palsy in the oblique muscle of my eye, resulting in double vision. Eureka! It all made sense now….

In more simple terms, a killer migraine caused a “short” in the nerve that goes to my eye muscle, causing it not to work properly, so that I now have double vision. That causes a vicious cycle of more migraines and other complications. I’m pretty happy with this news. It doesn’t really change the circumstances, but it does affirm what I’ve been telling doctors and everyone who will listen for quite a while now. My takeaway…we know our own body better than anyone. Except for our Maker. And boy, are we wonderfully and intricately woven together!

Walk by faith, not by sight. These words have a more profound meaning than ever before to me, because without my glasses, I see everything double! Even with my glasses, my eyes fatigue very easily and sometimes I can only do half of what I’d planned in a day. That used to really frustrate me and make me so mad. Kicking and screaming mad inside. Feeling sorry for myself mad.

Recently walk by faith, not by sight means when I don’t have sight, quite literally, because of fatigued eyes, I must rest. Rest can be active, you know. That’s something I’m learning. When I am not sleepy at all and it’s only 1:00pm in the afternoon, but my eyes must rest, I am forced to close them. I have choices in that moment. I can be really frustrated at my situation, and obsess on what I’m not able to do at that time, or I can simply take the time to be still.

Jesus

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Jesus, Jesus. How beautiful and powerful a name. I often uttered it in scorn.

In my most frightened moments, when I didn’t know what else to say or what else to do, it was the thing that I whispered and the fear would flee.

The impending doom that would press in on my chest in those quiet dark moments would leave when I just squeezed out the name… Jesus.

Now the name flows freely from my lips. It’s like a song. It has power, it has healing.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

There’s no sweeter name.

 

Living Dangerously

Jesus, Uncategorized

I love adventure, but I don’t like to be in danger. Sometimes I can be a scaredy-cat. A few years ago our family was watching the action-adventure movie Salt, with Angelina Jolie.

I’ve never been a big fan, because I’ve only seen one of her movies. But this movie had me enthralled from the very beginning.

It begins with a beautiful CIA agent, Jolie, who is being tortured in a North Korean prison on suspicion of being an American spy. She is released, and a beaten Jolie gets in the car where her boyfriend is waiting, understandably shaken.

He tenderly kisses her, looks at her with deep love, and she tells him, “You can’t be with me. It’s too dangerous; I’m not safe. It’s not safe for you to be with me.” He replies,

“I don’t want to be safe, I want to be with you.”

At this line, I gasped out loud.

My husband thought I gasped because I had the hots for Jolie’s onscreen boyfriend, or because I thought it was so romantic. No. I was struck and audibly sucked in my breath because this is so profound.

What if we answered that way every time God called us out of our comfort zone? I don’t want to be safe, I want to be with YOU.

Let that sink in. I don’t want to be safe, I want to be with YOU. Let that be my answer every time. And may it be yours. Do you believe that God can speak through a movie?

He spoke through the mouth of a donkey. Do you and I want to be safe, or do we want to be with Jesus?

It is well.

Attitude

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Funny how not seeing well is helping me to see some things better. My friend asked how I was seeing today, the kind of “How are you?” where she really wanted to know, and I told her that my vision isn’t good today. But I feel good and my outlook on life is good. It is well with my soul. I didn’t say that last part, but sometimes I say it out loud when asked how I’m doing.

Not because I want to be churchy or a throwback to an 1873 hymn (yes, I looked it up) but because it IS well with my soul. I get what Mr. Spafford meant as he penned these words. My circumstances are lame at times, as far as my eyeballs are concerned. I’ll have a couple of good days in a row when I can drive myself around in freedom, then a few bad days when I have migraines and have to call on friends to take me to work or errands. My short-term memory is almost always on the fritz. It annoys my family and it’s often embarrassing when people who don’t know the situation are repeating a conversation because I ask what looks like a stupid question. Again. Even so, it is well with my soul.

How can that be? I hate weakness. I am learning not to abhor it. I am uncomfortable being weak and helpless. But God is allowing me to be weak right now in this season of life. I choose to depend on Him in my weakness and allow Him to be my strength and my peace. If I didn’t do that, I would only be a very angry, bitter and sad, weak person. Instead, I am a weak and joyful person, being strengthened, day by day, and growing in perseverance.

Do you see the beautiful paradox? I am still weak. I am still sad. I grieve that I don’t have the “normal” carefree experience that I “deserve”. But because I choose to lean into Jesus daily, I am stronger than EVER because of him. He is my strength when I cannot do anything but cry and feel sorry for myself. He is my hope when I can’t imagine a future and don’t know what’s going to happen the next day with my plans. He is the one thing that I know of for certain in my life. That is why I can say, it is well with my soul.

Embrace Weakness

Jesus

Y’all may think I’ve gone a little crazy, but this is what I’m doing and it’s setting me free like never before. Embrace Weakness. This is upside down from the “pull up your bootstraps” mentality that is so prevalent in this culture. I tend to shun weakness and pretend that I don’t have any inadequacies. (chuckle) That is worth a loud snort because we all have frailties in our life.

My eyes aren’t working the way I want them to. As a result, I’ve had severe double vision for the past two and a half years. There are periods of time that I just can’t drive myself around to and fro the way that I’m used to. I have to call or text friends or ask my kids to take me to the grocery store, or to run errands, or to go to work. For a time, I was so fed up with asking people for help that I hired a college student as a driver for a couple of months. She is very sweet and was a blessing to us during that time. I wasn’t embracing my weakness. I was kicking and screaming and throwing a fit about it.

I kicked and screamed for about two years. I researched on the internet. I had several MRI’s, countless blood tests, doctor visits and went to the incredible Mayo Clinic. Suddenly, over the past few weeks, my vision is getting worse. My heart, however, is becoming more and more free. How? By embracing my weakness. I am weak. I can’t fight it. Well, I guess I can, but it’s just plain exhausting and fruitless. I have been angry at God, mad at my own body for betraying me and not behaving the way I want it to, and finally, I am done fighting.

I accept that I am weak. But Jesus is strong. He is my strength. I have tried to be strong my entire life and put up a persona of a strong woman, and I don’t have to do it anymore. It’s so relaxing and peaceful. Embrace weakness.

When I was a single mom of a little baby boy and had to prove to the world that I could do this, I was strong. When I was a young girl who was sexually abused and I promised myself I would never be a victim again, I was strong. I don’t have anything to prove now. I’m embracing my weakness, embracing Jesus and His peace. And it feels good.

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Talking to yourself in the mirror

God, gratitude, women

Women, have you noticed that there seems to be a constant tug-of-war going on in our minds with our body images?

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I don’t know about you, but in my mind, the fighting’s not fair. Most of the women that I know are not ugly, horribly fat and unkempt. Yet to hear them talk about themselves, that’s exactly what you’d think they were. If we were half as hard on other people as we were on ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends!

What about you? Are you friends with the reflection in the mirror? Do you look at her and point out all of her faults and criticize her?

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Nobody wants to befriend someone like that. Would you? I wouldn’t. Why do we treat our own body that way….I have been wondering. We are only entrusted with one body for this lifetime. We can be kind to ourselves and our inner talk as well as outer talk, or we can put ourselves down and constantly point out faults before anyone else does. Either way, we will believe ourselves, and we all know that is miserable.

I have been doing a strange but healing practice for myself lately that I think any female can benefit from. When I’m getting dressed, instead of pointing out my own faults, I thank God for my strong legs that can walk and take me places. I thank Him that I am mobile and can do the work that I need to that day. I then thank Him for my arms, then my torso. You get the idea! I practice the same with my face. It’s a little harder when I get to the wrinkles, but I can thank Him for the smile lines because I laugh a lot.

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How different would we feel if we spoke to and cared for our bodies and ourselves the way we do our best friends? Think about it! Maybe you’ll try talking to yourself in the mirror. 🙂

Thanks. Sometimes it’s not fun getting to that.

gratitude

GIving thanks for a trial and difficult time in life? Nope! I’m not that spiritually mature, and not sure that I ever will be. I’m a regular person who runs like a maniac to avoid any pain at all cost.  The last two and a half years have been the most difficult years of my adult life, and I couldn’t run from them as I have gone through some intense health challenges. However, I can definitely say that I learned to give thanks in the trial and in the painful circumstance.

If you’ve never had a loved one go through a medical difficulty, there is not a place in your heart or brain to understand it. I’m generally a compassionate and caring person. But as far as knowing someone going through infertility, cancer, diabetes, or any chronic or terminal illness, I just didn’t know what it felt like to go through something like that. To be perfectly honest, I was really quite glib about my questions and conversations with someone going through these things. Mind you, at the time, I felt sincere. Looking back, I think, what a clueless wonder I can be. Even with my own son, who has narcolepsy, a disease that affects him every day, I didn’t have a clue.

I am thankful that in the trial of this difficult medical journey, I have learned a deeper compassion for those who are hurting and looking for answers. I can empathize more with the anxiety of not knowing and waiting for a diagnosis, the fear of what diagnosis you may get, your family’s fear of the unknown, doctor visit after doctor visit, blood work, CT scans, MRI’s, medical bills you didn’t expect, the desperation to find answers, questions from people, no questions from people, and well-meaning things people say that through you for a loop.

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic last year

My brain MRI at the Mayo Clinic

Most of all, I am thankful in the trial for the constant God who doesn’t ever change. He walks with us through the valley when it’s dark and scary and unknown, and He is always there.

The sad truth is, that if I had read something like this before my own medical trial, I would have skimmed right over it. And that’s just the point. God taught me some really hard and good things through this difficulty that I only could have learned by going through it. So I’m being real and saying that I don’t like this trial and I would have rather fast-forwarded past it. But I’m thankful in it. And thankful for the God who has walked with me and never left my side.

(In case you were wondering what my medical issue is: For the first year and a half of my mysterious and sometimes debilitating symptoms, we suspected I had MS, with no conclusive diagnosis. After many, many tests, and doctor visits, we have learned that I have unusual complex migraines. They usually present themselves without a headache, but with double vision and other neurological symptoms. That’s why it was so hard to figure out that they’re migraines, because of the usual absence of headaches. I am in the process of getting the right medications and feel better than I have in the last two and half years.)

During my most difficult times of this health scare, the first year and a half, when I was so afraid of the unknown, I often recited the verse James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Morning beauty

Photography

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This is the morning view from a walk earlier this week.

The way the colors changed so drastically within minutes was mesmerizing! This sequence of photos was taken in a three minute span.

I’m really surprised I didn’t fall while I was trying to pump those arms and turn around my body for another great view.

Aren’t sunrises just the best?