Saturday, March 04, 2023

Laughing through Pain

This is me being happy on a day out with my hubby, despite a lot of intense pain from my herniated disc. I heard that physical therapy can make things worse at first. And…yikes.

Still, I’ve enjoyed this day. My hubby and I went grocery shopping. I made Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream for lunch. And we went to see the new Ant-man movie (it was a hoot). I had to stand up and do some exercises for my back half way through—so glad there was a half a row of empty seats to the left of us at the back of the theater!

I admit that there were a few times when the pain made me want to cry or spew expletives (okay, one not so nice word escaped my lips at an especially painful moment), but mostly I was able to laugh through it. One of those kind of nutty laughs that, if you heard it, might make you wonder if I were sane (especially if you saw the pained expression on my face). Maybe I was able to laugh because my husband was by my side all day today. Maybe it’s because I’m much more likely to laugh than cry in moments of stress. Or maybe it’s because the good of the day overshadowed the bad. Maybe it’s all of the above. 

There’s more to it, though.

I was able to laugh through the pain and enjoy my day because I know that the same hands that created the world are sustaining me through this challenging time. There is joy and peace that comes from knowing and trusting in Jesus that goes deeper than any pain, physical or not. 

Don’t get me wrong. There have been days when the joy has seemed distant, and all I could feel (besides pain) was desperation for healing or even a good night’s sleep. I’ve broken down sobbing while standing in my office trying to focus, and in the middle of the night when crawling into bed after the short walk to and from the bathroom.

It’s in those moments that God has reminded me of his presence and, with his still, small voice, to trust that he is working. That voice has come in the form of a Bible verse suddenly remembered, a perfectly timed phone call, even notes and texts from friends. 

God is there. He is working in all of this. He will get me through this and I will make a full recovery. I believe it. I believe it because I trust in Jesus’s words from John 16:33: “ I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I suppose Jesus wasn’t talking about herniated discs when he said those words. But…he’s overcome the world. He can handle this too. 

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Weekend Wisdom: C.S. Lewis on Heroic Courage

Wise words from C. S. Lewis about the impact of heroic characters in children's books. I shared this on the Read, Discuss, Do! Instagram account a while back, and thought it worth sharing again. 

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Putting Away Christmas

It's well into January and most people have moved on from Christmas by now. Me? I just got all my Christmas decorations put away, always a bittersweet time for me. I'm a little sad to tuck all my favorite ornaments into their wrappings and boxes, but am already looking forward to next year when I can take them out again! And that is what prompted me to update this post that I originally shared in 2015! A lot has changed in my life in those seven years, but some things have stayed the same, including my thoughts about why Christmas can never really be put away.

The wrapping paper hadn't even been thrown away yet before I started getting emails from retailers announcing their amazing post-Christmas sales. "Christmas is over!" they say, and that means bargains for anyone who hasn't had their fill of shopping for the last few weeks.

By December 30 there were posts all over social media about people undecking their halls, but I never "put away Christmas" so early. I like to enjoy the festivity of the Christmas season until after New Year's Day.

But as they say in the books and movies, the feeling of Christmas can last all year. And, ironically, the reasons go way beyond any sappy movie line.

Books and movies try to sell you the idea that Christmas "doesn't come from a store" and it's "the season of perpetual hope." They say you can be kind and giving and full of hope and peace beyond Christmas as long as you keep Christmas in your heart all year long.

The problem with keeping Christmas in your heart all year is that it keeps Jesus in the manger. And pretty soon that manger scene is made out of cats or marshmallow snowmen and nobody has any idea why the baby was in the manger in the first place. Or what happened to him after that Silent Night was long past.

People love to quote from Luke chapter two at Christmas, exclaiming the "good news of great joy" and "peace on earth, goodwill to men." That's a nice sentiment to have at Christmas, and it makes a lot of people a little more cheerful, a little more giving, a little more hopeful. But all too often it gets swept away with the paper scraps and pine needles.

Imagine, though, if the story of Christmas swept us away instead. What if we took a closer look at that baby in the manger, and let him and his story into our hearts? What if we could accept that Jesus gave us the manger so that he could give us the cross, and he gave us the cross so he could give us an empty tomb?

That is where the Christmas story leads, if only you would let it sweep you away.

I hope you have a happy and blessed New Year.