A Time to Be Human: Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together Part 2

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)

 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

In Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together,

I was heavy on joy, light on sorrow.

This week is heavy on sorrow, light on joy.

Feeling very human…so many emotions…

February 7th – Our very close friends’ daughter, Jesse, died – a time to weep…

February 8th – My wonderful dad’s 87th Birthday – a time to smile…

February 8th – The highlight of Josie’s year –a time for the Daddy Daughter Dance…

February 9th – Celebrate the life of friends’ son, Mike – a time to mourn…

February 10th – Celebrate the birth of our beautiful daughter Bethany – a time to smile…

February 10th – Anniversary of the passing of precious friend Andy – a time to mourn…

Life goes on for some, drags for others, redeemed for many, renewed in Heaven for others.

Time will bring more healing…heavy on the joy again…

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

 

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One Thousand Gifts – by Ann Voskamp: My Healing Through Gratitude

I have had losses in my life like anyone my age. Some of this was from pain of losing a loved one, a child going through pain, but the most life altering was from having three surgeries in a year with one that brought damage to my voice.

My passion in life is singing and leading worship. I’m a singer and a teacher, plus I love to talk, A LOT! After my third spinal surgery, I woke to find my right vocal cord nerve was paralyzed bringing my voice to a whisper at best. This completely put my life to a stop of reflection asking God what my new purpose was to be in His journey for me. As a person with deep faith, this was still a challenge as I processed, questioning, waiting…

In June 2012, I had surgery to allow me to talk, but I still could not sing well. In August, God was gracious and allowed me to help with church worship and, in October, go back to teaching and leading worship at my school part time.  Yet, I still grieved that I could not sing the way I wanted to. Although I understood that worship is a way of life and not a song, musical worship had for so long come from my heart through my larynx that I wasn’t sure how to deeply worship anymore.

In November, preparing for Thanksgiving, God challenged me to be thankful in everything. I thought I had been living a grateful life, but was still drifting towards complaining and discontentment in many areas, especially in my verbal life.

As the temptation to grumble approached, the Lord would reveal the parts of my problems to be thankful for:

Wandering Loved Ones: “Thank you, Lord, that they are alive. Thank you that they love me and want your blessing in their lives. Thank you for other loved ones close by and students that are seeking your face. Thank you for the husband who seeks your face and loves our family…”

A Broken Voice: “Thank you, Lord for the opportunities to touch lives for you in the health world because of this and help others in the same situation I’m in. Thank you that I can at least teach part time and help others to sing at school and at church. Lord, what? You don’t need perfection? Okay, I will sing, even if my cord doesn’t make the kind of sound I think it should make. I can still lift up my joyful noise to you for true worship comes from my heart and not my larynx. “

Positive growth, yet, I kept expecting, believing, waiting for a complete spectacular healing.

December 1st: Friends commented, “You are sounding better.”  I could tell there was a difference too.

December 21st: A visit to the voice surgeon, absolutely expecting him to say I was completely healed. He scopes my throat then matter-of-factly states, “No, Carla, your cord is still completely paralyzed. I’ll see you in March, you probably won’t have a voice then, and we will discuss a permanent surgery.”

More surgery??? “No, Lord! I will not have another surgery. I’m going to trust you with this one. I would rather not talk than have a 5th surgery.”

January: A precious loved one makes an attempt to reconnect. Gratitude begins to show its fruit. People stopping, saying, “Carla, your voice is back! You can sing! Wow! You sang great in chapel today! You are healed! When did that happen?”…

My Eyore response: “Thank you, but I’m not healed. In fact, in March I won’t have a voice at all again…” (I read this now and think how stupid I was!)

February 1st: I was sharing my heart with our school nurse regarding all this and she jumped up and said, “You have to read this book, One Thousand Gifts!” The next week she bought the book by Ann Voskamp as a gift for me.

Ann Voskamp is what I describe as an honest and down to real life author with an incredible gift for writing in a lyrical way that is beautiful and rare. This is a book you will want to sit with for a half hour, then meditate and savor in small bites twice a day.  Ann describes losses in her life – minor to major – and how gratitude opened up a whole new world as she saw God’s face in the midst of all stages of life.

What God starts, He always finishes. From November to now, through His Holy Spirit and this book, He plopped me in Gratitude Boot Camp! I had been doing the thanksgiving dance but failed to see the work He was doing, believing what the doctor said instead of seeing my Creator’s unique craftsmanship.

As I jumped deeper into gratitude, I had a bottomless sense of peace and began to think less about my voice and more about God’s purpose for my gifts, letting Him take care of my voice.

During this time, another doctor friend asked if he could refer me to a surgeon in Los Angeles who repairs voices of famous singers. The California doctor called me and said I sounded way too good for him to do surgery on me. He and my doctor friend explained that, although my nerve was still paralyzed, my vocal cord had fallen back to the middle of my larynx and was in the perfect position for vibration. With a singing specialist, they said I could very likely build endurance and range again.

I suddenly realized that God was using my voice in a wonderfully functioning capacity without a nerve to help it! I like the spectacular and had been looking for a lightning bolt to come down and strike me with healing power creating fireworks around me. Instead, he healed me with a gentle surprise patiently waiting for me to stop denying His work and realize that my gratitude broke open the doors to see the healing He had already accomplished in me.

It is now March 7th and, other than range and stamina, my voice feels almost normal again. I’ve cancelled the doctor appointment!

I truly believe that ungratefulness clouds the truth and blessings God wants to reveal to us. I’m so grateful for the difficult times and wouldn’t trade one treasure of wisdom I’ve received from the past two years for anything.

Read One Thousand Gifts and see what miracles God is already doing in your life.

Remembering My Child-Like Faith

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
John 10:10 (The Message)

God is our refuge and strength. Our very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear.
Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)

When I was only five years old and attending Vacation Bible School, our pastor told me about being a Jesus follower. Truths about having peace and no fear, and going to Heaven rather than Hell, made an impression. I remember thinking about it, then going home and thinking about it some more. At bedtime, I told my mom I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. From that day on, I was determined to love Jesus and make Him my best friend forever.

In the third grade, a broken leg landed me in the hospital. In 1971, kids with fractures spent at least one or two nights in the hospital. Because of work, my parents were unable to visit me, so other than my two Sunday school teachers, I was alone for a couple of days, and tempted to be frightened.

With determination to remember Jesus was with me, I decided the situation was like my Bible story from the Sunday before – Paul and Silas in prison. A bit dramatic for the much more mundane truth of my hospital stay, but I still decided to praise Jesus in the midst of my trial and pray for the girls in my room.

During crutch lessons with the physical therapist, I noticed other children up and down the hall who were very sick. I asked the nurse if I could go up and down the hall in a wheelchair praying for the sick kids. She granted permission, so off I went in my prayer machine on wheels.

One family, in particular, touched my heart. Their baby girl had pneumonia, and the doctors were not hopeful. I asked the parents if I could pray for her, and they eagerly agreed, wheeling my chair into her room. I prayed a simple little girl’s prayer for this baby asking for healing, and for her parents to not be afraid.

The next morning, I awoke to her mom and dad standing over my bed, tears in their eyes, holding a rosebud for me. Thinking the worst because of their tears, I asked what was wrong. But they quickly assured me that not only was their baby girl all right – despite not being expected to live – but the doctors were actually sending her home. The doctors, they said, were amazed that the baby was better. They thanked me for my prayers, and told me that Jesus had used me to bring healing to their little girl.

At that moment, I realized that being a Christian was not just a free ticket to Heaven. It is also a free ticket to join Jesus on the adventure of life, looking for opportunities to partner with Him in bringing abundant life to others.

As the years have passed, there have been many times that discouragement and doubt try to settle in. But each time I take those fears to Jesus, He reminds me of that little girl who knew no fear and His promise to be my lifelong partner in the best adventure of all.