• Category Archives MS
  • What People Are Saying about Through The Wilderness

    wilderness-cover-b

     

    “I’ve just started reading Through the Wilderness and I feel like you wrote it just for me! I cannot believe how much the first chapter impacted me. You may or may not know that I too was diagnosed with a chronic illness and everything you described, every emotion – I felt. I was going to read chapter two, but you packed so much into the first chapter I am now absorbing it. I have no doubt your book will bless many.

    And then some time later I received this:  “Are you sure you didn’t write this book for me? I got to your chapter on your vision of the swollen leg. You described my disease to a tee. My legs are swollen as you described and my lymphatic system is shutting down. So once again, your book spoke to me!”

    A second reader writes:

    “I LOVED your book!! There were several places in it where I thought you might be writing about me! More importantly, I could hear God’s voice speaking to me as I read. Thank you for writing the story of your journey. It is bringing Him glory. It is bringing fresh hope to the hurting.
    I’ve also experienced some extended incapacitating sickness, though in my case it was less physical, more emotional distress and depression, but equally hard to get out of bed in the morning and face seeing anyone outside my family for a season. The question you asked at the beginning of the book was one I struggled deeply with as well–what value do I have when I’m doing nothing?
    I love how you asked the Lord at many points what the physical might be pointing to in the spiritual realm–I believe in this too. The prophetic impressions and dialogues with God that you wrote about were also what I had to hold on to when my mind would yield to my out-of-balance emotions, especially of worry and fear.
    It took me about 4 years to really get regular victory over fear, and I’m still contending for a fear-free life. I could feel your solid belief in God’s goodness throughout your story, and I agree, God needed to expose the hidden fear in me so He could heal and deliver me from it because the next “assignment” He has for me will require a greater level of trust in Him.
    I saw in your story that same type of living out a parable that I lived through in coming out of my own wilderness.Similar to you, some things that resulted from my journey were a fresh satisfaction with playing a nurturing role as a small part of a larger thing God was doing, content to let Him orchestrate the rest, and a new love for intercession that is no longer carrying a burden, but a joy to talk about with God.
    I love how you continue to believe for your healing and allow people to pray for it, and how you didn’t grow bitter at “healers” or well-meaning Christians that I’m sure struggled to understand what you and God were experiencing together. I love your concept of a “mystery shelf.” That’s really beautiful.I felt the worship in your story, and it lifted my spirits.
    Your questions in each chapter are also so thorough and insightful! Even a bit scary, which alerts me what areas I need to have more work on with God. I prayed every one of the prayers out loud for myself too. Thanks for including those!”

    And then a third reader says,

    “I have walked with the Lord for many many years but this book/insight took me to a whole new level. It brought the way to peace and joy that I had been searching for so long.”

    You can get your copy here.

    My prayer is that the Lord meet you in your wilderness, of whatever kind, and that you are able to let Him walk you through it….that you would be able to lean into it to find every last nugget, every skill and character trait the Lord would help you build so that you are fully prepared for your next assignment!

    Shedding a little light…Carol Brown


  • Through the Wilderness

    IT’S FINALLY AVAILABLE!

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/194479803X/ref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid=1477093436&sr=8-1&keywords=Through+the+Wilderness+by+Carol+A.+Brown

    Please share with friends, and as always, any reviews posted to Amazon and Goodreads are welcomed and appreciated!  Except below.

    Shining a little light in the darkness, Carol

    wilderness-cover-b

    Excerpt:  Chapter 1 — Different, Not Ruined

    I slid off the exam table with the doctor’s diagnosis ringing in my ears. “We will schedule an MRI, but it will only confirm my diagnosis. I am ninety-nine point nine percent sure that you have MS.” I can’t remember what I said at that moment, but by the end of the day my resolve was, “I am in no hurry to receive my healing. I want to learn everything the Lord can teach me through this disease. I do not want to have to do another lap around The Sinai, thank you very much.” I did not want to end up like the children of Israel and spend forty years in my wilderness.

    It was December of 1995, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Back then, I tended to define myself to others by what I did. I believed, as many do, that my worth depended on my job, on how much money I made, or on how much I could produce each day. Like any propaganda, if you say it enough, you come to believe it. My culture lied to me.

    My job did not define me; my value did not depend on what I produced or contributed. This chronic disease brought me an identity crisis that was devastating. When my body no longer looked or functioned as it did, and I was unable to be what I was before—who then was I? What purpose did I have? What was my value to myself and others?

    MS tends to shrink life, lopping off huge chunks. It chips away and chips away. Insidious! Now life looked nothing like what I had worked so hard to attain. The attack affected my vision. My ability to read was limited —for a teacher that was the end of a career. The end of being productive. Even if the eye problems were to heal, my energies were so fickle I could not count on them being there on demand. My ability to walk was impaired. Forget about graceful, I was thankful to the Lord that I could walk at all! Should I insist that my body function after it told me to stop, it rewarded me with excruciating exhaustion. It tore at my insides and demanded that I become horizontal—now! Little things required huge outpourings of energy and quickly become too much.

    After my diagnosis, I quickly lost interest in trying to do much of anything. Sitting and watching others function normally wreaked havoc on how I saw myself. My name had been synonymous with responsibility and conscientiousness, and suddenly I was unable to be either of those.

    I felt I had no value.

    At my diagnosis, I did feel a sense of relief—of vindication. “See! I was right. Something was wrong!” But that relief I felt didn’t make up for the huge chunks of life that were now being stolen; opportunity after opportunity just out of reach. Would I ever be able to grasp that golden ring? Doubtful. Even if I could catch it, I could not hold onto it for long. Physically speaking, the best I had been was the best I would ever be. That was a very cold, harsh reality.

    But once I looked at that and acknowledged the truth of it, I began to see that the Lord saw me differently than I saw myself. I had value in His loving eyes. When I looked at myself with earthly perspective and wept, He looked with the eyes of heaven, and—although He grieved with me—He also rejoiced over my declaration when I committed that diagnosis to Him. I even went so far as to ask that He would work sanctification and holiness in my life because of it.

    In spite of this perspective that God could use even this devastating disease to work His nature into me, I continuously questioned God. Was there life after MS? Who was I now? Was there any purpose to my life? Did I have value? I could not contribute anything! I was a drain on my husband, my children . . . and so on.

    Choices! How could I choose to believe God, now, when He says, in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you; to prosper you and not to harm you?” From where I stood, it no longer seemed there could be anything good left in my future.

    Yet, over time, I began to understand that I have an intrinsic value that has nothing to do with what I do, or don’t do. God—who loved me regardless of my performance—is who gave me that value. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). That was my true identity. When I accepted Him, I became a child of God whether I did anything else, or not. Just being His child gives me value. Jesus coming to earth to win our salvation is proof of the value God places on each of us.

    But it was a long time before I could realize that truth. I had already learned my value came from what I could produce. And since I had always been able to produce, I didn’t realize there was any problem with defining myself that way. Yet, those were merely social values, which came from my own interpretation of family values. From working hard and having something to show for all the hard work. They also came from the society in which I grew up, that reinforced those same values.

    My family had always worked hard. We had to. But we still managed to maintain a joy of life, so I never realized there was any disagreement or disconnect between the Lord’s value system and that segment of my own. However, these two value systems crashed head-on with my diagnosis. Clearly, they were not the same. I realized that determining my value by tying it to my job—and how much I produce—did not come from the Lord.

    Now, I was suddenly at a crossroad, and had to choose which way I would go. Believing there was value in me without doing anything was not easy. But I still had to choose. Of course, I wanted to choose to believe the Lord, except it seemed too impossible. I didn’t have the strength to choose, much less believe Him. But then, The Lord helped me make the choice to believe Him.

    He did it by sending me to a potter’s shop, to work with a lump of clay.

    That first day, I was a novice, and the lesson was how to cut the clay from the wheel. I adjusted the wire as instructed and pushed the accelerator. I had no idea of the speed required, nor how the machine and the pot would interact. The wheel went far too fast! My pot came free, spun out of control, careened off the wheel, and landed on its head. I let out a wail—my creation lay dashed on the floor! I reached to throw it into the scrap bin thinking it beyond repair.

    My instructor bounded off her stool, and scooped it up protectively. “No! No! It is not ruined. It will be beautiful! There is no such thing as a ruined pot! It is not ruined, just different. You’ll see.” Then she pushed, pulled, pinched, and tweaked it. It became a lovely pot—not the shape I had in mind originally—but nonetheless acceptable. I learned that I must not be firmly invested in anything I make until it comes out of the fire. Until a pot has gone through the fire, I cannot say what it is; not until it becomes what it is. I must wait and see.

    From there it was no big jump to realize that when I work myself free of The Lord, I go careening off His wheel in much the same way. When I am free and think I am in control that is precisely when life spins out of control and I land on my head. Thinking life is ruined, I wail and lament. Then the loving Father scoops me up, dusts me off, pushing here and there. Pinching and tweaking, He transforms and redeems my shattered life. At times, in my distress, I cannot hear His Words of comfort when He tells me, “You are not ruined; just different than you thought you were going to be.”

    I was not there to give God counsel when He formed me (Psalm 139:13-18), so I do not know how far from His original design I am (Job 40:1-5). I cannot know for sure what I will be, or how I will look until I come out of the fire! So, as I learned to control the potter’s wheel much better, I was also learning to stay where the Lord put me until He moved me. Also, to do whatever task He gave me to the best of my ability—even if it was just sitting on a shelf and being a pretty pot, nurturing all who see!

    My own little pots I have made grace my shelf and haven’t a clue the nurture they give me. I don’t have a clue the joy my company gives the Lord as I spend time sitting on His shelf, either. At times I feel banished, excluded from life, and of little value. But I am learning to recognize these as mere feelings. They are transient and have no absolute or eternal reality. Sometimes they are even the whisperings of the enemy! Then I remind myself that although I may feel banished, in reality, the Lord has scooped me up, pushed and pulled, tweaked and pinched. He has lovingly put me up out of harm’s way—where I’ll not be damaged—and He can enjoy His art.

    My early pots do not have the precision of my later ones, but they sit next to the latest creation, and I value them no less. I have not thrown even the lumpiest of pots away. Nor has the Lord thrown me aside when, to my eyes, I am lumpy and misshapen. The cup without the handle is a pencil holder of distinction. Misshapen is unique. “Oops” became a signature mark. Ruined has become beautiful. No, I am not ruined. I am loved by my Maker.

    Chronic disease can ruin me only if I take my eyes off my Maker. Chronic disease can also ruin me if I hold on too tightly to the world’s value system. Or, if I listen to and believe the lies of the enemy, linking value and purpose to production and dollar signs. Most importantly, I know none of those things can ruin me unless I steadfastly insist upon crawling off The Lord’s wheel, or His shelf, and climbing—all by myself—into the scrap bin.
True, I am different than I was; my life is different from what I thought He planned for me. But the Lord is a good potter, who takes what life throws into the clay mix and works it into a design of beauty that I couldn’t have even imagined before. 
And while it is a struggle to hold on to a sense of value and meaning, that struggle is part of the tension of creation. Because I learned that, in formation, every pot is under tension—both pushed from the outside and supported from the inside. So, removed from society’s hustle and bustle, I finally came to remember my original goal—the purpose behind all I have done—which was to bless the heart of my Father. Yes, what I do has changed, and even how I do it. But value and purpose? Never! Because that part came from the Lord, and not me.

    That lesson at the potter’s house contained several learnings for me. The first was that I must never become overly invested in what I do until it has been through the fire. Secondly, my value to God comes from being His child rather than from what I produce. Trials may change my life; they may constrain me in various ways. But they cannot define me unless I agree with the negative picture of my future, which is inherent in the trial. I must look past the trial to the hope and the future God promises in Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 11. And as I came to understand what God was teaching me, and embraced those learnings, God counted that as valuable!

     

    Ask the Holy Spirit

    To make this lesson your own, identify a time, person, project, work, or ministry in which you invested hugely but the outcome turned out to be something other than what you anticipated.

    ! Did it define you? Did it become “who you were?” Did it determine your value and worth?

    ! Did you wail and moan over your loss? Did it feel like God didn’t care?

    ! Did you feel as though life was ruined?
! Did you try to wiggle free from the Lord’s wheel by asking Him to “fix” your situation according to your guidelines?

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reframe that event so you can see the Master Potter’s hand in it. Ask to see with the eyes of heaven what God was trying to build into you. An attitude, character trait, a skill set?

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit how to change your responses to your circumstances so that they will align with God’s heart for you and His values.

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit why He wants you to make these changes.

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit how to implement the changes He has shown you to make.

    Prayer

    Thank you God for making me Your child, for giving me belonging, value and worth—help me to be able to feel it. Forgive me for believing lies about myself and my worth. Forgive me for thinking ill of You, Lord, for allowing this trial to be part of my life. I cannot see what You see, or fully know what You have in mind for me. Grant me strength and grace, Lord, to stay on Your wheel. Today I  choose to focus on what is, and can be. Help me keep that focus! I declare that You are my loving Father, and Your plans are to prosper me, to give me hope and a future!

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

    Amen


  • Through The Wilderness, finding God’s presence when all seems lost

    wilderness-cover-full1

    If you have ever had a life altering event or trauma you have probably faced many of the same issues I did in regard to a sense of worth or value and purpose in life. Really questioning all of that and where God was in it and why He would allow such devastation.

    I love a quote that is attributed to Winston Churchill. “If you are going through hell, keep going!” We could say, if you are going through a wilderness, keep walking!” You will get through it if you keep moving. You will get through it if you do not lose heart and turn your back on God.

    And if you do keep moving through it with the Lord, you will come out the other side transformed. People may not recognize you!  “Who is this coming up from the wilderness like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?” Song of Songs 3:6

    Some topics covered are:

    • After major losses, we will be different, but not necessarily ruined.
    • When we feel we are “on the shelf, use the “shelf time” to honor God and learn His ways.
    • The trouble with centering is that, like clay, we fight the hand that forms us.
    • When we turn to Jesus in our brokenness, He will take great care to bind us up in ways unique to our brokenness. He knows exactly the lines along which we break, so He knows how re-assemble us.
    • In Jesus we can have no fear or regret…once we see from His perspective. In His timing He allows us to see with His eyes, without condemnation. He knows when we are ready to see with understanding.
    • When we do not understand we can put our confusing circumstances and dilemmas on a “mystery shelf” as we wait in peace for God’s timing for revelation.
    • It may sound like a Christian cliché, but the joy of the Lord really is our strength!

    As soon as the technology finishes its processes, it will appear on Amazon and ebook distribution outlets. May you be encouraged as you slog through your wilderness.

    Shining a little light,  Carol


  • Habits

    Habits are wonderful and habits can undo you! Ridding oneself of the bad ones and developing new ones is just plain hard work. When habits are good, they assist you in accomplishing even more because they free up the little bit of will power that is granted for the day. You can focus your will power on a goal rather than blow it to working your way through a “to-do” list. Unlike phone plans there doesn’t seem to be any roll over to build up will power points.

    I used to have some excellent habits in organizing my life, accomplishing the work I needed to do, and still have time left for some fun activities and contributing to my community. Then the MS hit and annihilated  all my good habits.

    When the brain fog mostly cleared and I could see the crumbled mess of my life and my home…dust buffaloes roaming freely through the house! I began comparing the old self with the new self–bad idea. It added to the downward spiral and the new bad self-image, It depleted an already severely weakened self-worth. Comparison works like a black hole and sucks up precious will power. Oy!

    I spend a majority of most days in my recliner…so I watch lots of video presentations. One I found particularly helpful. The presenter, Eban Pagan, told of a man who had  two large rocks, a whole bunch of smaller rocks, some pebbles and some sand to put in a tank…first the sand and pebbles, then the small rocks. When he tried to put the two big rocks in there was not enough room. But when he did it the other way around–put in the two big rocks, placed the smaller ones around them, then the pebbles, viola! the sand slid down between and around them all and there was plenty of room for everything.

    Aha! I had found my plan…identify my two big rocks and make sure I do them before anything else. I am aiming for these to be two-hour blocks. All the other tasks will fit around them and if something of a small rock or pebble size is not done it is no big deal. Each day I have identified one house work item per day as a “big rock” and writing as my second “big rock.” My goal is to make sure those “big rock” time blocks are uninterrupted. After that I am very interruptible, if that’s a word! If I can develop some strong habits around time flow it will free up the will power that is poured for me daily, some days a thimble full and some days a tea cup. If I can build a strong habit, I won’t have to use up the will power to think through what needs to be done next. It is already a habit. It might work!

    Michael Hyatt is a writing mentor I read and follow as I can. He says having a companion while you are in the “messy middle” (before you reach a goal) makes is much easier to accomplish. Thanking God for helping me see a way out! I’d love to hear how God brought you out of an impossible situation. Let’s help each other.

    shedding a little light…Carol A. Brown

    www.fromgodsheart.com  Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive.

     

     


  • Depression Is The Pits

    I keep thinking I am done talking about the symptoms of MS and then the Lord suggests something else…depression—which is a hazard for most chronic conditions.
     
    imageDepression in my case was not directly caused by MS—it has nothing to do physically with the de-myelination of the nerves that are directly responsible for mood. In my situation it was a kind of secondary problem—it had everything to do with the chemical imbalance of my body from pushing too far by will power and made worse by my emotional response to circumstances over which I had no control.
     
    After “the event” your body no longer functions as it once did. You suddenly find yourself unable to do things you did with ease, hardly a second thought. For me it was simple housekeeping things like:
     
    •  dusting and taking care of house plants
    • picking up around the house (bending over is not advised because of loss of balance which could lead to a fall, a torn up knee or broken bone)
    • doing floors
    • menu planning and cooking
    • bed making
    • gardening
    Because the body won’t put out anymore, you can’t prepare or deliver lessons or keep up with the students youthful bodies—there goes your career.
     
    With the lack of mobility your body starts looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Who, what am I now? What value or worth do I have? Every single referent that I looked to to tell me who I was was gone in a matter of a few weeks. Life as I knew it was over. What’s not to be depressed about?
     
    You have to give up your independence (the car keys) so you can’t take yourself to even see a friend or go to a church meeting for spiritual and emotional nurture. You can no longer meet your own needs. Frustrating beyond words.
     
    The avenues of nurture dry up. Any movement requires excessive amounts of energy. Motivation? Forget about it—it is non existent. The body chemistry goes out of whack and depression creeps in…but you are unaware.
     
    Add to that the high sensitivity which you cannot turn off so you still sense people’s pain around you–and life becomes very difficult to bear. The retirement benefits of Heaven start to look really good.
     
    The first time I was consciously aware that I was depressed, I remember standing at the sink feeling this bone grinding exhaustion while washing and preparing vegetables for dinner. I was planning for the care of our two children after I died.
     
    I was not going to commit suicide but I was not going to fight death when it came. I could sense my spirit was almost gone. I knew when it went my body would soon shut down so with what little I had I wanted to make sure my kids would be loved and cared for. That was before I knew I was battling MS.
     
    The Lord intervened twice, picked me up and carried me out of that desperate place. He fought for me. I could see the tunnel I was in. I knew there was no light in it this side of heaven. That was my reality.  I was emotionally flat. Without God’s direct intervention I don’t think I would be here to tell you this.
     
    For a time I was on anti-depressants to take the edge off and to stabilize the body chemistry. Doctors can be one of those resources we are to use when needed.
     
     
    The second time depression visited my house was after the second attack. I knew the attack was spiritually motivated so I did fight but I had so little endurance…so little motivation… But again Jesus fought for me and in the places of greatest darkness He revealed Himself. When God does that things change.
     
    I want you to know that strong people become depressed; especially when they give and give until there is nothing left to give and then by the sheer force of will, they give beyond their design capacity. That throws the body chemistry out of whack.
     
    I also want you to know that depression creeps in incrementally so you don’t notice it coming. It is usually someone else who points it out and I hope they do it gently.
     
    TunnelIf you reach out to Jesus in the darkness He will answer and begin to slowly turn on the lights, but slowly so your eyes will not hurt. Then He will begin to teach you about Himself, slowly because the brain doesn’t work real fast anymore. He knows you and will meet you in a way that is appropriate for you.
     
    I am so thankful for the story of Elijah in I Kings chapter 18-l9. After he defeated the prophets of Baal, Elijah outran the chariots coming down the mountain—he was bookin’ it! He expended everything he had—all his energy spiritually, emotionally and physically. There was nothing left, so when Jezebel started hunting for him to kill him he ran for his life and hid—and asked God to let him die.
     
    whirlwindI totally get that. But look at God’s response. He didn’t get mad at him, make demands of him or shame him. He didn’t call him names. He sent angels to feed him; gave him water and let him sleep. After he had rested for a couple days and nights God told him to start walking—just put one foot in front of the other. This took him 40 days. When Elijah arrived at Mount Horeb the Lord met him.
     
    Again, the Lord did not yell at him or tell him he didn’t have enough faith; he didn’t tell him to buck up. He did point out that there were 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal; He let Elijah know he was not the only one. That was how he felt, in a way He acknowledged Elijah’s feelings, but there was no other correction. God agreed with Elijah’s evaluation that Israel was in sin and gave instructions for who would come alongside to help. God did not want him to fight this battle alone. He doesn’t want you to be alone either. I encourage you to let God pick people to send to you, and don’t turn them away.
     
    A Possible Next Step: Eat some healthy food. Sleep. Do a little mindless exercise (walk around the block or take a  short bike ride) and then slowly start to rebuild joy.
     
    Blessings,Carol                                                                             Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                      www.fromgodsheart.com                                                               www.joystarters.com

  • Dealing…one day at a time

    Myrrh plant – Photo courtesy of Google Images
     

    It dawned on me that I had not posted here lately. Two reasons: First, I have been consumed with starting this new project on joy, (which I love!) setting up a new website to go with it: www.joystarters.com, gathering materials in preparation for a big “write in” for the book we will write about “Joy Starters” and making decisions to bring www.fromgodsheart.com to a different server. And secondly, it is abundantly clear that I have energy limitations due to the fact that MS has been an unwelcome squatter in my life.

     
    I’ve been encouraged to be candid about living with MS. I have this to say about that: MS SUCKS! There I said it. It’s true. MS has taken away nearly everything that told me who I am and that gave me a sense of worth, value and belonging. It has wrecked havoc on my self image and sorely pressed my faith.
     
     At times I could hear Job’s wife screaming at me to curse God and die. For some reason that I do not understand I could not do that. I turned and looked at that screaming demon through my brain fog and sloth-like I slowly thought, “Why would I do that? It doesn’t make sense.” Like Peter, I thought, “To whom and where would I go if I broke relationship? There is no other place to go for me.” I could not wrap my mind around living without Jesus in my life. So I turned to Him with everything and pounded His chest; I shouted, cried and asked my questions, told Him how unfair it was and questioned His motives. Then I went logical and pointed out that He was shotting Himself in the foot because after all He poured into me I would be unable to do what He had gifted and prepared me to do. But it didn’t change anything. Not His love for me and not my condition.
     
    Let me just stay with the faith part of it…we can come back to the other issues in later blogs. One time in that first year I had one of those times when you don’t know if you dreamed or if it was a vision or what. Everything was so foggy. That’s what brain damage does to you. You sleep a lot; that’s how your brain recovers. So was I sleeping in the day time and had a dream or was it a vision? I don’t know. But what I saw was Jesus and me inside a clay jar (must have been a big one!) and we had been wrestling. At the moment we were both resting after a round, my feet up against the side He was leaning on and His feet on the wall that I was leaning against; our clothes stuck to our bodies from sweat; it was pouring down our faces. He is bigger than me, but that did not stop me! I guess I was like Jacob who wrestled with God, but unlike Jacob I don’t remember getting any promise out of Him.
     
    A couple days earlier someone had given me a song about myrrh and how it’s fragrance is released only when it is crushed. As we were catching our breath I told the Lord that unlike myrrh, crushing me only made a stink. He smiled at me and there was so much love and understanding in that smile that it undid me! I get teary eyed just thinking about it. Without words He communicated, “of course it would smell that way because your senses were not yet fully redeemed!” But that look of love in His eyes…somehow I knew that I would be unable to understand even if He explained it to me. Understanding something of that magnitude is beyond my human design capabilities. I didn’t like that answer but my spirit knew that He was right. Now some 17+ years later I know that I don’t have the capacity physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually to process all that happened to me so it sits on a shelf I labeled “mystery” and as He grows my capacity we will process one aspect after another.
     
    What do you do with a God like that? Who let’s you beat on Him, yell at Him and question His motives and still hold onto you with such love? Akkk it just unwinds every over tight spring in my body! My response was to just love Him back…with however much capacity I had.

    If you have a chronic condition or an “incurable disease,” how has it affected your faith and how did you handle your diagnosis?

    Blessings, Carol Brown
    Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive
    www.fromgodsheart.com
    www.joystarters.com
    Work in Progrss — Joy Starters


  • Thankfulness for the hard things?

    We are entering a season of thanksgiving. There are some who have very little to give thanks for…yet Scripture says to give thanks FOR everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

    Seriously? Yes, seriously–even when there are no feelings to match the words. We don’t have the perspective that God does, but as we ask to see from His point of view we will find our attitude changes. For those times we can see His fingerprints in the events our lives we can give thanks. That will sensitize our spirit to see even more evidence of God at work in our lives.

    When MS took away my life as I knew it–career, voice, vision…you name it, it was lost to me. At first I was numb, then angry at God. He could have prevented it; so why didn’t He? I soon learned that anger used up what little strength I did have so I moved on to grieving over the losses. I can’t remember the exact track I took, but I moved through all the stages of grief–the bargaining, the attempts at acceptance, etc.

    And then, after years of holding onto “God is good regardless of how it looks,” it happened. I saw not only the MS, but all the other hard places in life from His point of view and all I could say was “Thank you!” He knows the good stuff that He built into you. He also knows what it will take for you and me to dig deep enough to find those good things that will result in a sense of fulfillment.

    So here are just a few of the things I am grateful for: (in no special order)

    • That I am no longer in the classroom – I loved it when the “aha” happened and I saw understanding in the eyes of a student. I don’t see that very often these days. But…the blessing is that I don’t have to get up early or correct papers! Nor deal with difficult parents and their difficult children or speak English by 8:00 a.m. I do not have to cope with the indocrinazation of philosophies I do not agree with or teach concepts that I am opposed to. Nor deal with the politics that go on in educational circles.

    • That I am housebound – We no longer need to have two cars! The blessing is that I have a husband who is happy to be with me regardless. With the internet and telephone I am able to keep in touch with friends all over the world! And my social needs are quite easily and simply met.

    • I am grateful for MS – God showed me that what I thought was being sidelined was in actuality a promotion–my classroom has been greatly expanded. I have time to write the things that God shares with me. I love to receive emails from people who have read my books and found them life changing. The more I let go of the old “me,” the more I can embrace the new that the Lord keeps bringing. Hard things strip away all the stuff of life that we surround ourselves with that keep us from seeing that He still delights in you and me. that blew my mind. The stripping away creates space for us to feel the worth and belonging that He gives.

    Give thanks, even for the hard things in life. It changes the focus away from the problem onto the solution. It calms the restless thoughts and raging emotions so that we can see the He has pulled us out of destruction and anointed (set us apart) for accomplishing good things–good for us personally and good for others. Author Sheldon Vanauken called such an event a “severe mercy!” I would have to agree.

    What hard place has the Lord walked you through? What about that experience can you give thanks? For those of you still in the hard spot, I pray that He will clear away the barriers so that you can feel his comforting presence and see what it is that you are thankful for!

    Blessings, Carol Brown
    www.fromgodsheart.com


  • Camel Hair Shirt

               I don’t know about you, but camel hair shirts really
    give me a rash!  Maybe I’m allergic to
    camel hair. I hadn’t even realised I was
    wearing one until one day my writing partner suggested several radical measures
    to take on the piece I was writing. She
    was absolutely right, but after the call I carried on like the camel from which
    my shirt was made! I bellowed my
    objections that the load was too heavy. The way was too long. I moaned
    and groaned. I whined and carried on!

    Just as my lament was reaching its crescendo, the Lord
    stood before me. He didn’t raise His
    voice. There was no sarcasm in His
    tone. He just stood there as Commander
    in Chief, as Lord. And He said, “You
    said you wanted to learn everything I have to teach you.” The truth of His words took my breath
    away. In the spirit I saw myself fall to
    my knees. I was undone by my own
    words. He was right. Absolutely right!   

    When I first awakened after the initial long sleep of MS
    many people wanted to pray for my healing. I let them. When I was not healed right away, another round of caring folk suggested
    first this healer and then another. I
    went to hear some of them, but always had to leave before much of anything
    happened. I don’t know why healing can’t
    happen in the church before 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. 

    There was always this hesitancy in me . . . a kind of
    knowing that the Lord was going to use the MS somehow for His glory and my
    benefit. That doesn’t make sense, I
    know, but God’s logic is quite different from ours and His values turn ours on
    end. I didn’t understand either—still
    don’t. But I told someone that I wanted
    to “milk” this experience of the disease for all it was worth. I was not in a
    hurry to receive my healing because I wanted to learn everything God had to teach me during this time. I did not want to do another lap
    around Sinai.

    As the Lord repeated my own words to me, they hit with
    such a force I stopped mid-whine. The
    way He brought my own words back to me did something inside me. The whine was gone. All I could say was, “Yes, Lord.” I felt complaining was over and done—that I
    could rub on liniment when arduous work made me sore, but not complain? Never again!.

    That was when I realised that underneath the robe of
    righteousness the Lord had given me was a camel hair shirt. I asked the Him “Why the shirt? I can’t get it off.” He explained that He
    provided the resources I would need when I accepted His calling. I was incredulous! “I need this hot, smelly, irritating
    undershirt!?” He didn’t respond to the
    question, just kept talking. “Every calling has its task(s). You are to engage the tasks, but as you do,
    the tasks will work on you, building and shaping you into the fullness of the
    character of Christ. The work and
    disciplines of your calling are the camel hair shirt. The things in and about that calling which
    poke and irritate the flesh, these are my gift to you.

    I stood there with my mouth hanging open. If I understood Him correctly, writing and
    the rigours of MS are my “shirt” and if I am to learn all the Lord has to teach
    me, I will submit to those disciplines.
    I guess once a camel, always a camel. Sad to say, once the initial shock wore off, I have since then skated
    quite close to the edge of complaining.
    Like Rudyard Kipling”s camel, I have “humphed”.

    I find I move into the flesh in ways I was unaware
    of. The work, or the people with whom I
    live and work, poke and jab and my flesh is irritatingly brought to
    light—sometimes raw from the chaffing, like an untended saddle sore. I am thinking,  probably all flesh is allergic to camel hair.

    I am aware that I have a choice at this point. I can
    choose to forgive and heal, bring flesh to death in relationship to others and
    the Lord. I can submit to the
    disciplines of my calling, or I can moan and groan and carry on like a
    camel. I am finding that as I do the
    nasty work of bringing flesh to death, the camel hairs irritate less. The disciplines, the parameters of my calling—even
    the people with whom I work struggle against or struggle because they are not
    available—all become the banks through which my spirit flows. They define my limits and boundaries; but
    they are not barriers to restrict or hem me in. Rather, they give direction and purpose to my life. They become the avenues through which others
    are blessed—to God’s glory and my benefit.

    I am finding that when I begin to overheat it usually is
    not the camel hair shirt causing the problem. I tend to overheat when I move
    too quickly. I can’t seem to sprint down
    the lane set before me like an Olympic athlete—too much friction from my

    shirt. The hairs poke my flesh reminding
    me to not move that way. They encourage
    me to proceed at His pace, to stand straighter and walk taller, more like our
    Lord. That irritating gift keeps me on
    task—it helps me remember what it is I am doing and why.When I tire and collapse in a heap; when my
    shoulders melt down into my hips, my body doesn’t fit the shirt properly and
    the goofy thing starts poking.  When I
    lean into the flesh the camel hairs encourage me to straighten up, to move and
    walk in the ways of the Lord. But until
    I learn to submit to it, this darned camel hair shirt is going to keep on
    giving me a rash!