Brain Jumble

letters
The cloudy cold dreary weather causes people to struggle with changes in their mood, and pain in their joints.  For me, add to it how it wrecks havoc on my foggy brain.   There was a time when I think my body just needs some oiling (lots of supplements/vitamins), and could definitely need some repairing but on those cold and dreary days….…I think a new one is the only thing that will help!
At the age of 61, some would say it is normal to forget appointments, people’s names, a movie I already watched (maybe more than once) or even what was said a few minutes ago….. the reality is my brain as seen on my MRI scans is filled with holes scattered all over the place. Some are bigger than others but definitely more than just the few which come with aging.
I love this explanation from a fellow MS blogger “I imagine words bouncing around in my brain, sliding from hole to hole and hitting road blocks in hopes of finding a way of escape. It’s kind of like they are stuck in a perpetual reality game of Chutes and Ladders.”   It is so true.  Combine that mess with missing memories and some days I feel like the movie “50 First Dates”.  Yup, I had to look up the name because I couldn’t remember it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is about a girl who doesn’t remember so each day is a new day.  An average day for me includes not remembering things BUT there are those crazy radon thoughts which find their way through the maze of detours.  It is those crazy random thoughts on a good day which make some think, I’m okay!
What happens to the thoughts and memories which don’t find a place to call home?  Do they just keep rattling around forever?  It’s such a weird feeling to know the words or the things I’m trying to remember are there somewhere…. stuck so they can’t seem to connect with my tongue.  Therapists wanted to call it selective memory or that I am repressing bad things.  What about the good memories?
I know I frustrate people from time to time with my long pauses, lack of complex vocabulary and not remembering things.  I frustrate myself.  I used to be able to multi-task, juggling lots of things and remember clearly important events (as well as random nonsense) in my life.  Most memories of my childhood seemed to be missing after my addiction so I adjusted or at least I thought I had.  I always said I probably burnt out more brain cells than I thought during my many years of using drugs.  Then along came the MS.   Only recently have they determined loss of memory can be a key factor in the diagnosis of MS so were the gaps in memory addiction or MS.  Guess we will never know…
I struggle to remember things when talking to my old HS classmates. I struggle to remember growing up.  I struggle to remember the birth of my daughter.  I struggle to remember the work and people I met doing social work for 20 plus years.  I struggle to remember my wedding.  I struggle to remember my accomplishments even looking at pictures or plaques seem like someone else.  I struggle with my business to remember prints, products, fellow consultants and even customers/hostess who have been with me for my almost 8 years in business.
I struggle to remember time frames so it may have been weeks/months since I talked to you but to me, it may be less than a week.  Some days I can’t remember anything at all, then some days I remember bits and pieces.  When people tell me things I have said or done, it seems so foreign to me. Like it was a different person – a person I can’t identify with now.  The memories I do have take on a different picture than those of the people around me – some things have fallen into the potholes of my brain still trying to find a way out.
I’m thankful for the people who are patient with me.  I thankful for the ones who give me the space and time I need to piece things together even when I get things all mixed up.  I’m learning to say “ I’m collecting my thoughts” which is so true some days.  I’m learning to be honest and say “I don’t remember” of course the blank stare I give when people talk is often a clue.  I truly know what it’s like to sift through words, thoughts and ideas as I attempt to make sense of things.
But that’s my world now…a jumbled up 3-dimensional word search game. The bad thing about it is someone keeps switching the game board and jumbling up all the words. I feel like they see I have made progress with my puzzle and then come along mixing up all of the pieces.  Just when I think I have things solved, BAM…there’s a new arrangement of letters, pieces and words to sort through.
Today’s blog was a rambling jumble of thoughts as I come to terms with living life with MS.  There are days I try to act like it isn’t there – things are normal (whatever that may be).  There are days when I am unable to move because my muscles don’t know what to do.  There are days when I actually do remember, and can function as if the MS is only a blip on the radar.  Most days, I’m just trying to sift through a sea of letters and words in my brain searching for…what was it again? Pancakes? Trashcans? Envelopes?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

When You Feel You’re Not Enough


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message……

“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

When I was six years old, I skipped off to school with a new box of crayons, a Swiss-polka-dotted dress, and fresh hope that I would be smart. But first grade only confirmed my greatest fear. I was “not enough.”

As soon as my first-grade teacher held up that initial spelling flashcard, I knew I was in trouble. We lined up our miniature wooden chairs in a row like a choo-choo train. The teacher held up a spelling flashcard for us to identify the word. If we missed the word, we had to go to the caboose. I spent most of the first grade in the caboose. I just couldn’t spell to save my life. For some reason, I especially had trouble with the word the.

I’ll help her, my teacher must have thought. She made me a nametag that read

t-h-e, and I had to wear it for two weeks. Students came up to me and asked, “Why are you wearing that tag?” “Is your name ‘The’?” “You must be stupid.” “What’s wrong with you?”

Well, I learned how to spell the word the, but that’s not all I learned. I learned I wasn’t as smart as everybody else, and once again, not enough. And even though I ended up doing well in school, many times I’ve still felt like that little girl in the caboose of the spelling train.

Moses was a man who felt he wasn’t good enough. When God spoke to him through a burning bush and called him to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage, he had a big case of the “not good enoughs.”

That’s when he had a one-sided argument with God. Moses told God he was the wrong man for the job. He wasn’t brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, eloquent enough, charismatic enough, or confident enough.

At one point, Moses said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-15).

Moses was 80 years old when he had his argument with God at the burning bush. But even the weakest knees in the hands of I AM can become a mighty force to be reckoned with.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that you too, at one time or another, will struggle with feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy just like Moses did. And the underlying statement feeding the sense of worthlessness is “I’m not __________ enough.” You can fill that blank in with any number of qualities.

But here’s what we need to remember: Whatever we feel we are not, God is. He is the God who fills in our gaps; He is I AM who fills in our blanks.

When we say, “I’m not strong enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not wise enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not bold enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not smart enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not good enough,” God says, “I AM.”

Once we let go of the lies that we are not enough and take hold of the truth that we are more than enough because of Jesus’s presence and power in us, then we will be set free from paralyzing insecurity and be on our way to experiencing courageous confidence to do everything He calls us to do. It’s time get out of the caboose and sit up front with the Chief Engineer.

You want to know something amazing? One of my greatest weakness as a child was spelling words. And now that is what God has called me to do today…write with words. I stand with Paul who lamented about his weakness: “But he [God] 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

That’s what happens when we allow God to fill in our blanks. He turns what we perceive as our greatest weakness into our greatest strengths.

What is God calling you to do today? In what areas do you feel that you’re not enough? Oh friend, because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, and His power in you, you are more than enough! Don’t forget it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

NOTE:  Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Surrendered Giver


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…..

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NIV).

My husband is a surrendered giver. I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin.

God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I can choose to be selfish or selfless. But I need to live in a way that searches for opportunities to be generous. Over the years, Dan has taught me so much about what it means to be a surrendered giver.

We are to give as much as we are able to give. Two years ago, we downsized so that we would have more money to give away. We both drive older used cars. There is nothing wrong with buying a new car or a bigger house – unless it affects our ability to give.

The church in Macedonia saw giving as a privilege. We need to do the same.

We need to look for opportunities to give. Love gives. For God so loved the church that He … gave! A surrendered giver gives out of gratitude for what God has done in his life and is willing to stretch and develop a generosity reflex when presented with a need.

Jesus measures what we give by what we have left. Do you tithe the ten percent we are challenged to give? How would you respond if Jesus asked you to double your tithe? Whoa! That is a lot to ask – right?

We have a friend who attended a conference where the speaker challenged each attendee to double their tithes and see what God would do in their lives. Our friend accepted the challenge and has seen his business mushroom into a huge success. Today, he not only gives a double tithe, but he also gives to meet the needs of many in our community. He is also one of the most humble and unassuming people I have ever met.

Another friend has a great way to look for opportunities to give. He has two accounts. One for his living expenses and then there is his God account. He is a Day Trader. Each morning he gets up and says, “Where are we going to give today, Lord?” I know this attitude absolutely delights the Father who is the ultimate surrendered giver.

The reality is that if my checkbook does not reflect my faith, I have an immature faith. God does not need my money. He wants me to give so He can bless me!

How about you? What kind of giver are you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You an Emotional Spender?

Are you an emotional spender?  Honestly, until about 6 months ago, I spent when I was happy, sad, bored…. it really didn’t matter what I was feeling.  I shopped  I have been working hard to stay on a budget but it is hard!

Did you know “The number-one problem in today’s generation and economy is the lack of financial literacy”?

Why??? The truth is, the problem is a struggle with self-control. You went to the mall to buy a birthday gift for your niece, and walked out with a new pair of shoes for yourself. You’ve tried a budget, but somehow you always seem to find something to spend money on that wasn’t in it. Can you relate? If so, consider these practical strategies to get your emotional spending under control:

1. Sleep on it.

If you think you just have to have it, whatever it is, make it your rule to sleep on your decision. Very few things are so urgent you can’t wait 24 hours to make your purchase.

2. Phone a friend.

Be accountable to someone!  You are more likely to reach your goal if you tell someone you’ve set one. So, tell a friend about your goal to stop digging yourself into more credit card debt. Then when you find yourself about to make another purchase you can’t afford, call them up and let them talk you down.

3. Never go shopping alone.

If you can’t trust yourself to phone a friend, then don’t go shopping alone. Of course, my biggest problem (and maybe yours) is online shopping).  The simple click to get what we want, NOW!  Headed to the mall, have someone with you who will hold you accountable.  Shopping online, STEP AWAY from the computer.  Leave it in your cart for 24-hours!  Refuse to use “retail therapy” to deal with loneliness, boredom, or disappointments. Find a new hobby which keeps you active, helps you to connect with others and builds new relationships. Focus less on accumulating stuff and more on enjoying experiences with people and things which matter most to you.

4. Plan for it.

STOP right now!  Take out a notepad and jot down the most important thing you need, and then the most important thing you want. Do you know how much each will cost? Jot it down. Not sure, find out.  How long would it take you to save for each? Practice delayed gratification (so hard for a recovering addict to do!). It forces you to appreciate the true value of your money, which will help you spend your money more consciously.

5. Keep a picture of your goal in front of you.

I have a vision board I carry in my planner so I am always reminded of what I am working towards.  Post pictures where you will see them on a regular basis so you are reminded of your goal. Whether it is on your refrigerator, in your purse, or on your bathroom mirror, make the vision plain and visible.

6. Take the credit cards out of your wallet.

I LOVE this saying…” if you want to get out of the hole you’re in, stop digging!”  If you’re in debt, it’s time to stop adding to your debt. And if you’re an emotional spender, keep your impulse purchases to a minimum by leaving your credit cards at home. No need to make it easy to charge it.  Better yet, cut up ALL of your cards (maybe keep one for emergencies).

7. Use cash.

I will admit, I am not a cash person.  I use my debit card for most things.  I actually feel like I spend less than when I use cash.  Crazy, right?  There are always those places which don’t take cards too so I can’t spend. Research shows though, forking over cash makes you spend less. As simplistic as it sounds, one of the best ways to curb spending is to determine your budget for various expenses (i.e., lunch, groceries, clothing, etc.), then take out your budgeted amount in cash.  Dave Ramsey’s system from Financial Peace University is AMAZING!   While it can be easy to lose track of how much you spend when you swipe a credit or even a debit card, cash forces you to count and keep track of what you spend in a concrete way.

If saving or spending is a problem, I challenge you to stop spending emotionally and start managing your money wisely.  Which of these tips were most helpful to you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Lesson of a Beekeeper

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

A beekeeper once told author F.B. Meyer how some of the young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell, which is filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a certain stage of maturity. The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax.

When the food is gone, it is time for the tiny creature to be released. The wax is so hard to penetrate that the bee can make only a very narrow opening. It is so narrow that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When it finally does emerge, it is able to fly.

The man telling the story said that a moth once got into the hive and devoured the wax capsules. As a result, the young bees crawled out without any effort or trouble. But they could not fly.

When a crisis hits or a pit seems to swallow me whole, I want out – fast! I look for the nearest exit that will allow the easiest escape. But sometimes the easy way out or the simplest solution is not God’s plan.

God loves me enough to teach me that the purpose of the pit is to purify and then to restore. God is in the restoration business. He is not interested in my comfort as much as He is committed to my character. And sometimes it takes an excruciating struggle to emerge with a lesson that can only be learned in the darkness. Some things simply cannot be learned in the light. It is through the struggle of the trial – the journey out of the pit of darkness that the very best part of us takes flight.

Two of my favorite words in the Bible are “But God.” Those two words create an eternal backdrop that changes everything.

  • Everything looks different when God comes.
  • Everything is made right by His presence.
  • Every problem is resolved when God is factored into the equation.

To survive and succeed in life, we must refuse to fix our gaze on the “little things” that are meant to divert God’s purpose. If we really want to become a strong warrior, our glance must be on the circumstances of life and our gaze must be on Him. When we instill that spiritual discipline as a reality, life becomes the joy God meant it to be.

  • Stress will give way to peace.
  • Doubt will give way to faith.
  • Fear will give way to trust.
  • Darkness will give way to light.
  • Defeat will give way to victory.

Does that mean we will float through each day without facing trials, defeats, enemies or impossibilities? No – it simply means that the backdrop against which we view those dark moments will be replaced with the truth that God is enough.

When the stress of life threatens and it seems you can’t go on, rest in the truth that the same God who called you will provide everything you need to accomplish His purpose in your life.

Have a ThirtyOne-deful day!