Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Being Broken

Some days I feel totally broken. I look back at my past mistakes  (those I remember) then add the fact I’m living with MS……. all I see are the cracks and imperfections. I’m sure that is what most people see.  Working on my Fourth Step has been a challenge…. dealing with memory issues, remembering pieces of the puzzle and not being able to put it together, and being careful not to beat myself up over the mistakes I have repeated during my relapse.

I noticed something amazing happens when you hold me up to the light…… You may see my broken places…but, you also see what makes me beautiful, because in those cracks are the stories of overcoming and standing strong.  I have weathered many storms over the years.

It is because of those imperfections, I am who I am today…broken pieces and all. My scars tell my story. There was a time when I hid my scars, afraid of what others would think. My first time in recovery, I found my broken pieces were an inspiration to others. I was able to help other struggling addicts which in turn blessed me many times. Relapse made me feel as if those broken pieces should be hidden from the world.  Afraid of what others would think.  Comparing myself to others.  I’m now learning to embrace those repeated mistakes and look at the additional cracks as more blessings.

My MS scars may be invisible to the world, but their effects are made real as I struggle to get through some days. There are days when I can’t walk more than a few steps on my own, changing the sheets on the bed is a fight, holding things in my left hand requires both hands.…but I keep fighting. I push on. I keep going.  On good days, I over do then spend days resting and doing nothing.  There is often a sea of tears, but I keep going.

Each of you have broken places and cracks too. Your mistakes and hurts are real, as well as your disability (if you have one), but so is your beauty.  Let your beauty shine through and let your story inspire others. Just because you have cracks doesn’t mean you are worthless. Even if you are broken, you are a container of life, love, brilliance and beauty. Let those things spill out today.

Your story is in your scars and may be just what someone needs to hear in order to keep going.  So, just for today I will be grateful for my scars and the cracks I have.  I will stop worrying about what others think and let my light shine for all to see.

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Light of the What?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

The hike up the mountain was a tough one. Flimsy patches of shade dangled from the trees but they were no match for the brutal Pennsylvania mid-summer heat. The rocky, three-mile vertical jaunt was only tamed by the fun being had along the way with the other camp counselors.

We talked. We sang. We laughed.

It was a week before the campers would arrive. All the counselors gathered for training that prepared us for the lessons and activities we would lead kids in all summer long. Caving was one of the optional camp activities so we went as a team of counselors to experience it before we led it.

When we finally reached the entrance of the cave and stepped down into the mouth I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d never been caving before and I didn’t know what to expect, but the benefits of “no more heat” were very appealing to me those first few minutes. We grabbed our flashlights, turned them on, filed in one by one, and began moving down the dark entrance corridor.

After I grew accustomed to the cooler temperature of the cave, I secretly got a bit freaked out by my surroundings. As passageways grew smaller and smaller and we trekked deeper and deeper into the cave, my mind flooded with questions. Is there enough air in here to support life? Who signed me up for this?What happens if we get lost down here? I have to crawl on my belly to go forward… wait, what?

Yeah. For real. It was something else.

I don’t think I’m necessarily claustrophobic, but let’s just say “comfortable and brave” aren’t the words I’d use to describe how I was feeling mid-cave. I strapped on my courage, breathed a steady stream of silent prayers, and stayed close to the friend in front of me as we followed the guide who was leading our group.

An hour or so into the spelunking expedition, he led us into a room. Yes. A room in the middle of a cave. {And, yes. I was thinking about Marshall, Will and Holly… and hissing Sleestaks and Cha-Ka. Because this is normal behavior for those of us born between 1968 and 1975.}

This inner room was big enough for the entire group of counselors. There must’ve been at least 40 of us that day. We all loaded in and chit-chatted excessively.

“Can I have everyone’s attention, please?” Our guide summoned us to silence.

Giggles and conversations trailed off…

“We are in the heart of the cave. This room has no natural source of light whatsoever. Only what we have brought with us: the flashlights. It’s a darkness that is different than anything you’ve ever experienced. To illustrate this, I’d like everyone to switch off your lights.”

Gulp. Okay.

“Try to see the person beside you. You can’t. Hold your hand up in front of your face. Wave it around. You can’t see it. This is a space void of light.”

We ooohedand ahhhed,and tried our hardest to see… with no success.

Then he lit a match.

One. Tiny. Match.

And the whole room was visible.

Darkness was invaded. Conquered. Shoved back. Forced to flee and acquiesce to one itty-bitty source of light.

And he began to tell a familiar story that stirred my soul in a fresh way.

“A long time ago, on the other side of the world, on a hillside near Capernaum Jesus sat down with a group of ordinary people just like you and me. He looked them in the eye and said to all who believed…

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Then he went on to commission us for the work that lies ahead. He challenged us to be mindful of light’s impact and to go back to the campground and be that light all summer long. To the campers. To the counselors. To everyone we came in contact with.

I was gripped.

Gripped by the power of light. Gripped by this word that Jesus said describes me. IS me. Is my purpose… my calling… my commissioning – for that summer… this winter… every day.

Light.

I am the light of the world. Not because of any glittery glow of my own but because I am handcrafted, redeemed, restored, and refined by THE Light of the World who blows away any and all darkness that tries to dominate.

You are the light of the world too. And those around you in your family, your workplace, community, and even in your church are in great need of seeing an un-hidden, unapologetic light that serves and loves others in such a way that they would simply have to respond to God with praise.

Go on now… shine!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel, Personal Causes

Post Holiday Blahs

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”  Maori Proverb

It is Tuesday morning after a long weekend.  For some the weekend was about work.  For others it was about family and friends.  It was about barbecues, parades and parties.  It was about celebrating life.

Stressed-mum

Then there were those who struggled. Maybe they struggled because they were alone.  Maybe they struggled because they lost their job.  Maybe every day is a struggle for them. Maybe they just can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Which one is you?  In either case, you may want to turn your alarm off and go back to bed.  Most will get up and face the day while some will hide under the covers and avoid life.   I remember those days.  The days that I forced myself to get out of bed.  The days that I sat and cried for no reason.  The days of sadness. The days of trying to fake it till I could make it.  That is what it was like living with adjustment disorder combined with depression.

Sounds pretty awful, right?  Those days of  highs and lows seemed to never end.  All I wanted was to be normal, whatever that is, right?

I saw a small light occasionally which is what kept me believing.  I had a choice – “Let life lead me, or lead my life.”

I realized that I was a fighter (deep down).  I wanted to always look for the best in others. I wanted to fall down and get back up again — and again.  I fought through the struggles of abortion, addiction, homelessness, debt and depression.  I was fighting to be the optimist – staying positive when giving into the the negative would have been easier.

1. I stopped saying things like:

“It figures,” “Isn’t that just my luck,” “It would only happen to me,” and, “I just can’t catch a break.”

2. I stopped joining in other’s pity parties.

Empathy and compassion are important.  I am learning to acknowledge feelings of negativity, but not dwell on them.

3. I thank my lucky stars.

This one is HUGE for me!  When I start to get stressed and depressed, I stop and say “thank you.” To anything. Thank my house, for providing warmth and four walls. Thank my car, for continuing to start. Thank my job, because it keeps you clothed and fed.  Thank my business, because it keeps me reaching for my dreams.  Sounds crazy, right?  But it does work.  Gratitude goes a long way to chaining your attitude about life.

4. Make someone smile.

Buy a coffee for the person next in line,  or buy a balloon and ask the cashier to deliver it anonymously to the next kid who gets in line.

Don’t have the money to do anything – email/text a friend with a message to have a nice day.  Hold the door with a smile or compliment a fellow shopper on their outfit.

Living an optimistic life takes work and slip-ups will happen.  Find the good in every person, in every situation.  You have to fight for the light at the end of the tunnel.

If I weren’t a fighter, I wouldn’t be here today.  I may not have always thought of myself as a fighter but I never gave up. It was and is about believing in the power of good, not bad. It’s about turning off the negativity and looking for the good in everything.

If you are struggling, reach out and let someone know.  Help is just a hand (or call away).  God placed this message on my heart this morning for someone.  I hope it brought a smile to someone.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!