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The following is a guest post by my friend Jenna Rader. I am excited to have Jenna’s leap into the blogging world here on Raising Inspiration. She has such a wonderful spirit and I know that you will enjoy her writing as much as I do! Show her some love! 

At nearly seventy years of age, my mother underwent her third hip replacement surgery on the same joint. The surgeon botched the first surgery by inserting an oversized apparatus. Several months later, when she was still unable to walk and one leg was an inch longer than the other, the doctors finally admitted the mistake and scheduled another replacement surgery.

After the second surgery and several more months of pain and inability to walk, my mother discovered that the second hip replacement apparatus had been recalled by the manufacturer due to reports of severe allergic reactions in patients.  In the third surgery, the doctor reported that the site where the apparatus was located was covered with tumors. Not only was her hip-joint replaced for a third time, reconstruction was conducted on much of the tissue.

Upon awakening from this third surgery, my mother, still groggy from anesthetic, asked the nurse’s aide if she knew about the Bible App that she could access on her phone. She tried to download it for her and when she was unable to, I received the following text:

Text Message

 

Rather than being bitter and angry from the numerous surgeries, the inability to walk for nearly three years and the trauma that has been caused to her body through no fault of her own, my mother continually chooses a good attitude and possesses a beautiful godly spirit. She always shares God’s love with others.

She may never be able to walk without help again. I know that she will continue to have joy and spread God’s blessings no matter the circumstance.

Paul, writing from prison, possessed this same attitude – an attitude of joy because of the grace and love that God has bestowed upon his children. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

This kind of joy is not a human-based happiness or an emotion that comes and goes. True joy is divine in origin and emanates from the grace of God. It is a spirit-given expression of God’s grace that flourishes best in hard times. It is a timeless joy that flows out of people directly from God.

And I want to be just like that.

 

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.

Little guy watching cartoons while sick

The stomach bug has made its appearance in our home. It all started on Wednesday when I got a call from Eli’s preschool saying that he was sick. I picked him up and decided that since he had this bug it would be good to have some pedialyte in the house for him. With us being a one car family and Chase was already at work I figured now was the best time to go get it because we were already out and what if he got worse later in the day and it wouldn’t be practical to get back out. So with that I pulled into the neighborhood Wal-Mart that was on our way home and headed inside. I didn’t make it two steps inside before he started throwing up, yes I am aware that this might be to much of a painted picture for some… but hey, we are all moms so we all deal with this. Anyways, I managed to keep everything contained and not get any on the floor, you’re welcome Wal-Mart! I darted for the bathroom where he could finish throwing up, because yes it was still coming. After that I cleaned up the mess we made and cleaned us up the best possible and then decided that although I seemed to be a little like superwoman just then, I would like some help. This would be when I called Chase explaining to him everything that happened and asked him if I could swing by his office, grab him to help us get home and then he could go out and get the pedialyte while I cleaned Eli and I up. The awesome hubby that he is was watching for me out his office window and came right out as soon as I pulled up. He then managed to help us get inside, cleaned up and went to the store and back all before returning back to work. What a blessing that man is!

I call my Wal-Mart trip my worst decision ever! I mean it seemed like the best idea at the time, what else was I supposed to do? Being a one car family and I had the car this was the most logical idea, or so it seemed to me. I know that I can’t be the only one who made a similar terrible decision that at the time seemed so great. If you are reading this and saying how crazy this entire situation is then you probably have never been puked on, well your day will come. Trust me! Every parent will get this experience, mine just happened to be in public. For the rest of you, your probably reading this with a slight chuckle in your throat because you have experienced something very similar yourself. Then there are probably some of you reading this that do not have kids yet and I totally just grossed you out. Don’t worry, puke is puke, it is gross no matter what, BUT when it is your kid the gross factor is secondary to their helplessness and their need for you. So if you don’t have kids yet, don’t fret because when your day comes you will be able to handle yourself like superwoman, that is just what moms do in these situations!

And just to add a side note, in the time it took to finish this post Chase has now come down with the stomach bug as well, I guess it’s only time before superwoman gets it too…

sunset

Our trip to California to visit my family

You might find this little known fact about me interesting.. seven years is the longest I have ever stayed in any one place (which is where we are at currently). Growing up my family moved around a lot. No, my dad was not military. He worked for a heating and air supply company that moved him around. I can honestly say that I didn’t mind the moving, I hated the process of moving all our stuff and getting settled in, but the move itself was exciting. New places, new friends and an entirely different place to call home, for a short time.

horses

Nothing like a good horseback ride in east Texas

We typically would move about every five years, sometimes it would be less time than that. Each time that we moved my brother and I would take turns getting to pick which room we wanted, (you know siblings tend to argue and the youngest sibling-aka me-always wants whatever the older sibling picks). So to make life easier and a little more fun my mom made the rule that each time we moved one of us would get to look at the bedrooms and pick first, then the next move we would switch. Don’t ask me why this was so exciting to us but it really was! (Oh the things that will make a kid happy!)

Despite the typical sibling squabbles all the moving really did bring me, my brother and the entire family closer. Especially when we made the big move from Oklahoma to South Carolina. We knew absolutely no one so we relied on each other completely. That was one of the best moves we ever made. Yes, friendships and memories were made that will be lifelong, but the best part is our family grew together in a way that could only happen when you are in a place that you have no one else, but each other.

house

The house I lived in while in South Carolina. I loved this house!

For those that are curious we never made any crazy moves beside the one from Oklahoma to South Carolina, we did move through the state of Oklahoma many times though. Now you find me here, seven years in the same town! Wow, it is kind of weird! So many times when you hear of families, especially military families that have moved so often their children want to find one place and stay put. Is that the same with me? To be completely honest, no!

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He’s already happy traveling! I can’t wait to take him to see the world!

I have become antsy and craving for some adventure, some travel, something out of the norm for our everyday routine. Recently I have come across an amazing blog of a family, the Dennings, that has made the choice to be world travelers, nomads if you will. What did this blog do to me? It awakened my adventurous spirit and made me dream of a day that I could take my family and travel the world! You are probably saying to yourself “this girl is crazy, doesn’t she remember the stress of moving again and again?” Why yes I do remember that, but it doesn’t make the adventure less worth it. Sometimes you have to do things a little crazy for the amazing to happen! Chase and I dream of a day that we can live abroad, teaching our kids the cultures beyond the United States, loving the people of God that we wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. We dream of traveling even in the United States because there are adventures still to be had here. Just last night Chase and I were talking about these things and I ended the conversation saying “there are so many beautiful things God placed on this Earth that it is a waste not to see all that we can.”

Could you be a nomad?

For those of you that have followed the guest blog posts you will remember Michelle Clark of Miss Banana Pants from her earlier post she did for me about All Moms are Liars. Well today she brings some great insight into her journey of a seven month fast…

 

We’ve all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more “stuff” makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I’ve truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn’t mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I’m okay with it. To a certain extent.  The truth is I’ve been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I’m given/what we can afford. I’ve just always had a very “disposable” mentality about stuff. It’s here today, it’s helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it’s okay. It’s all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me.  Maybe it doesn’t. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don’t cling to my stuff, doesn’t mean I don’t take it for granted. I’m not concerned with it being gone, because “out with the old, in with the new”. Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you?

Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked.

I made the massive mistake of taking this “simple-looking” book with me on vacation to read by the beach. I think I must be the very first girl ever to sit in a lounge chair in the sand staring at the ocean waves and reading a book about EXCESS. Seems a bit hypocritical.  Not an easy book to read while on vacation, I’ll tell ya!  Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.  It did feel wrong.  I was so spoiled at that moment.  No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation.  Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we were humbled by the love that has been shown to us.  It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all.  We just have so much stuff and are so selfish.  Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become?  It seems like the more we get  –  the more we THINK we need.  We feel like we DESERVE it all.  It’s a terrible cycle and I was ready to get off.  Something definitely had to give.  I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart throughout vacation and came home with a resolve.  This stuff that Jen Hatmaker covered in her book wasn’t “new” new but she did something about it.  She put feet to her words.  I knew that I wanted to begin to put feet to mine as well.  I was not going to be just another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” theory and experiment.  I wanted to do.  I wanted to act.  I wanted to be wrecked to the point of change.  It was official.  I didn’t want to be comfortable anymore. I wanted to take on Jen Hatmaker’s challenge to fast in the seven areas of my life that were defining who I was:  Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Spending, Waste, and Stress.

Currently, I’m just finishing up my Food Fast for month one and boy, am I glad it’s almost over! Not because I didn’t learn a TON, but because I am ready to try to be a better steward in this department on my own. In the book, “7”, Jen just chose seven different foods and ate nothing but those seven things all month-long. What dedication! I am not that spiritual! Ha! I, instead, made seven food rules for myself to adhere to for the entire 4 weeks, and I have to say, I followed most of them pretty well.  They were:  No Fast Food, No Pop/Soda, No Alcohol, No Pork, No Chocolate, No Eating After 7 pm, and Only ONE grocery trip per week.

During this whole first month, the main things that I’ve learned are just how spoiled I am in the area of food. I’ve never had to worry about what I will eat until now. I’m having to plan ahead because I can’t just grab something on the go. Sometimes I have found myself literally consumed with how to organize my day around us having enough time to come home and cook something. I’ve never had to think about food so much in my life! I am realizing what a blessing it’s been to be born into a society that, for the most part, doesn’t have to worry about food.  I live a privileged life.  I’ve never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been ridiculously blessed relationally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it’s almost embarrassing at times when I think of it in comparison to so many other people in other countries.  And yet, this month, I let the little things like the fact that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window for lunch or grab a soda obstruct my view on my reality.  I struggled to see how blessed I am because I wasn’t able to see the forest because I was concentrating on the trees.  Even before this month I did that.  I concentrate too much on the few things that I can’t have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal  I have more food (even with all this month’s limitations) in one single day than most of the earth’s population see their whole lives.  If anything is ridiculous, it’s that fact. But how many times do we really stop and think about that fact?  If we did, it would not only change the way we think about food, but it would revolutionize the way we think about life.

As this month ends and I am about to embark on the next phase of this 7 month fast, I’m excited to see what more God has to teach me. Next month’s focus is “Clothes” and I’ve decided to mirror the experiment that Hatmaker did in her book.  She chose only 7 articles of clothes and wore nothing but those things for an entire month. Sounds completely ridiculous, eh? But I really think that this month might stir in me a new-found appreciation for what it feels like to not only not care about what you look like, but focus more time and energy on changing the ME behind the facade of fashion.  This month I’m sure to see some inner change. I can’t wait.

For those of you who think this whole thing is so WEIRD, you are totally right. I think it is too, actually.  Really, it’s okay to think I’m becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, “I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn’t working anymore.” It’s not. I’m sure that most of Jesus’ ideas weren’t so popular either.  I’m convinced that He got the “I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong” face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd.  He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified.  He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him.  It’s as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it.  I’m okay with an oddball label.  I think we should all learn to be a bit more different. One of my all-time favorite quotes came from a speaker at a youth conference I went to almost 10 years ago but it has always stuck with me.  “You cannot make a difference in this world unless you ARE different from this world.”

 

Photo Credit: Rachelulgado